I have hated Tim Ferriss for a long time. I have hated him since we both had editors at Crown Publishing who sat next to each other and I heard how difficult he is.
I didn’t blog about it because first of all, I’m sure the buzz about me is that I’m difficult, too. And also, his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was a bestseller and mine wasn’t. So I figured people would say that I’m jealous. And really, what author is not jealous sometimes? I mean, every author wants to write a bestseller.
But at this point, two years later, my hatred goes way beyond jealousy. My hatred is more selfless than that. And while I do understand that Tim is great at accelerated learning, the time management tips I have learned from him stem from the energy I have spent hating him:
1.Don’t hang out with people who don’t respect your time
This all started at SXSW conference in 2007, right before Tim’s book came out, when he was promoting the hell out of it to bloggers. Of course, this was not a bad idea, and to be fair, Tim was brilliant to start this book marketing trend. But that is beside the point. He approached me after my panel and said, “Can I get you coffee? I’d love to talk with you.”
I said, “Uh. No. I have plans.”
And he asked who with.
I wasn’t really sure. I knew there were cool people to hang out with after my panel, though, and I knew he wasn’t one of them. I gave a vague answer.
He said he was also meeting three people, and he name-dropped them. I can’t remember who they were. But they were fun, interesting, and I wanted to have coffee with them. So I said okay.
Then Tim couldn’t find them and I had coffee with only Tim.
Then I realized this was his strategy all along.
I told myself not to be pissy. I told myself bait-and-switch is the oldest sales tool in the world, and it’s my fault for falling for it.
I even wrote a blog post that included his book.
2.Cut to the chase: Tell people who are full of sh*t that they’re full of sh*t
When his book came out, there were vacuous, annoying comments all over my blog directing people to his book. Like, “The topic of priorities is an interesting one. I like how Tim Ferris handles that in his new book,blah blah” and then there’s a link to the book.
At this point I knew Tim, sort of. And I called him on his phone and told him to tell his employees to stop spamming my blog.
First he implied it was his fan base and he had little control.
I said that I thought he was full of sh*t.
He said he’d make sure there were no more comments like that on my blog.
3.Self-centered people are more likely to waste your time
Really, when I found he was spamming my site, I didn’t call him first. First, I emailed him. And I got some sort of crazy response about how he is only checking email twice a day and then instructions on what to do.
I emailed him back to tell him that I do not want automatic emails from him every time I try to contact him.
Which generated another, identical response about how he doesn’t check mail.
So I called him to tell him that he is generating spam back to me to tell me about his email checking and I don’t care. If he wants to check twice a day, fine, but don’t clog my in box with emails about it.
He said he’d take me off his list.
I am STILL getting this sort of spam from him. But the scope has widened. For example, now, he has commented on my blog and he forgot to say that he doesn’t want to be alerted to new comments. So every time there’s a comment, he spams everyone in the comments string, telling them that he doesn’t answer his email.
It’s insane. I cannot believe how many automated announcements I receive saying that Tim does not have a Blackberry. (Yes, the email really says that.) What if we all sent automated emails like that? Email would be totally nonfunctional. What if Tim just shut up about his email and if he thinks its fine to answer twice a day, then he should do that? And not spam everyone about it.
4.Productivity is about meeting your goals, not getting out of doing work
The week that Tim actually works a four-hour work week will be a cold week in hell. Tim got to where he is by being an insanely hard worker. I don’t know anyone who worked harder at promoting a book than he did. But the thing is, he didn’t call it work. Somehow, sliming me into having coffee with him to talk about his book is not work.
Fine. But then his four-hour work week is merely semantic. Because everything Tim does he turns into what the rest of us would call work, and he calls it not-work. For example, tango. If you want to be world-record holder, it’s work. It’s your job to be special at dancing the tango. That’s your big goal that you’re working toward. How you earn money is probably just a day job. So most weeks Tim probably has a 100-hour workweek. It’s just that he’s doing things he likes, so he lies to you and says he only works four hours. He defines work only as doing what you don’t like.
It’s childish. It’s a childish, semantic game. And it reminds me of him winning the Chinese National Kickboxing Championships by leveraging a little-known rule that people are disqualified if they stop outside the box. So he pushed each of his opponents outside the box to win.
He is winning the I-work-less-than-you game with a similarly questionable method: semantics.
5.Time management is about making time to connect with people
The idea of time management only matters in relation to how important the stuff is that’s competing for your time. The stuff that makes time management the most difficult is relationships. Which Tim does not excel in.
Fine. Not everyone has to be good at making real connections.
But Tim runs around telling people who have lots of relationships competing for their time how to think about work/not work, forgetting that in the real world, where people are not assholes, time management is not an equation or a semantic game because relationships really matter. And figuring out how to judge time in terms of competing values is the hardest thing of all.
Tim is all about time management for achievement and winning. But there are not trophies or measurements for relationships. There is only that feeling that someone is kind. And good. And truly connected.
And Tim is not.