5 Time management tricks I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss


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.

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    • Jobeth Quigley
      Jobeth Quigley says:

      I have to agree with David on this, they were some awesome tips. I have always struggled with managing my time and over the years I have read a lot of time management lists and articles online, but this one trumps them all! I love how you lay down the law, you just picked up another reader.

      • Sam
        Sam says:

        I am going to have to agree to agree with both com mentors. Was a good way to spend the last 15 minutes, I wish I could think up a good pun for all this

        • Yizta
          Yizta says:

          Here’s a quick a fast rule on who to listen to:

          I come to this blog and read tons of negativity supporting more negativity.

          I go to Tim’s blog and there is endless positivity supporting more positivity.

          Tim strikes me as a likable guy.

          • Douglas Michael Massing
            Douglas Michael Massing says:

            I have a personal rule:

            When I see or hear someone going on about positivity and negativity, I pay attention only long enough to confirm my suspicion that they thereby avoid any discussion of the content of whatever they’re judging to be positive or negative.

            Haven’t been disappointed yet.

          • Bill
            Bill says:

            Yizta you are right. Tim is positive. Penelope is often negative. Shoot by adding this comment I am probably increasing her readership. This article wasn’t that good about saving time, I’ve read better.

          • Peter D. Smith
            Peter D. Smith says:

            Agree. Strange, I just posted the same comment on a different blog by Penelope. I suppose there is a market for negativity – which is a shame.

      • Adrian
        Adrian says:

        Yes, good tips, and you capture my feelings well. Tim Ferriss makes me tired. While he occasionally will point to something interesting, and he initially grabbed my attention, in the end he is all sizzle and no steak.

        While surfing the web over the past few years, I’ve left half a dozen mildly-critical, non-fanboy comments at his site. Not one comment was published. No notice, just disappeared without a trace. Try it.

        This is true. And it demonstrates what is blatantly obvious: that Ferriss’ highest value is tightly controlling his brand, and he orients all his activities to the promotion of one thing: Tim Ferriss.

        How cleverly manipulative and ultimately boring this triumph of empty marketing Ferriss is.

        • Laura
          Laura says:

          Penelope, I like your site, and I think you have some interesting things to say. .. however in this article I really just read more criticism of Tim Ferriss… which really gave more light about you and how you operate. I agree his tactics are unconventional but at the end he achieves those goals, he’s successful at his brand, and I respect you both. However, this criticism … almost childish I would’ve kept to myself.

          • AS
            AS says:

            Seriously? I agree with the commenter who said you should have kept this to yourself. I have read your blog only twice now and honestly find it really unprofessional.

    • NotTim
      NotTim says:

      You know, these are all good points, and as I understand it, they’re all covered in Tim’s next book, which you will soon be able to pre-order on Amazon.

  1. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    First, do you think Tim will take credit for the time management skills you developed through your dislike of him? Second, I might beg to differ about not having measures for relationships…having relationships (unless you’re using the term loosely) is the measure. Sure you can fake it, but in the end if you don’t make meaningful connections with people, you won’t have any relationships.

    • Maria Elena Duron
      Maria Elena Duron says:

      FINALLY! Someone who just comes out and says it! I facilitate a roundtable of CEOs and as soon as they read the part about the kickboxing – they said “trash it”..that’s no way to do business for the long term.

      Had a lawyer tell me that it was “ingenious” on how to work around the rules….go figure!

      Thank you for your comment. And, I truly LOVE Penelope’s post…finally, someone has said it out loud and said it very well!

  2. Doug Ransom
    Doug Ransom says:

    I read Tim’s book and I could net get it out of my home fast enough. He lost me where he was describing how he cheated used a loophole in the rules to win at kickboxing.

    • Scott
      Scott says:

      Actually, this just shows he had a better understanding of the competition than did his opponents. If his opponents were so great, then they should be able to stop some amateur from pushing them around. Not being able to do so only speaks to their lack of skill. A champion fighter would not make excuses, but would instead figure out a way to beat Tim’s pushing tactic.

      Remember when Indiana Jones shot the guy with the swords? Same deal – Indy was just plain smarter.

      • Regi Keys
        Regi Keys says:


        I understand there is another opinion to Tim’s work.
        I really think it is a worthwhile read, my suggestion is to read it and make up your own opinion, seperate the wheat from the chaff and find whats good for you.. there is some good stuff in there and I found it opened my eyes to other posibilities that Id never even considered.
        I felt ‘freer’ after reading the book and saw life from a different perspective

        • A Ferris Reader
          A Ferris Reader says:

          Thank you for this point, this is exactly how I feel. There is something rubs me funny about the way he goes about his work, all of the guns love, and the rule-loopholes… but I don’t want to be Tim Ferriss, I just want to learn what’s useful and incorporate it into my lifestyle. The man makes absolutely brilliant sense in many, many ways, and others… not for me, and that’s OK. His models and approach to self learning are amazing and have really helped me out a lot.

      • Andrew R Long
        Andrew R Long says:

        Tim’s opponents in this case happened to be Chinese men that he outweighed by at least 20 pounds, due to his hacking the weight-class system using well-known high-school dehydration techniques.

        Even professional fighters, when faced with a guy who is clearly above their weight class by one or two divisions, who shouldn’t even be in the ring with them, are not going to be able to come up with a “strategy” to avoid getting pushed out of the ring. Oh, maybe they should have just pulled guns and shot him. (And I speak as someone who has fought in Muai Thai matches.)

        Indiana Jones was fictional, btw.

      • kris
        kris says:

        loopholes are for lawyers. at best, i find mr. ferris amusing. mostly i find that he’s just wasting people’s time, ironically.

    • Griffin Boyce
      Griffin Boyce says:

      He wasn’t the first nor last to use those Ring Out techniques. He doesn’t really seem to claim that he invented/created them, just that he saw the tide turning to using Ring Out.

      This has gone on for years now. If they had an issue with the technique, they would have banned it. The simple fact is that most fighters cannot throw someone out of the ring, which is why it was effective.

      • Chris J
        Chris J says:

        I agree. You can never take anyone and emulate their entire life or model to a ‘T.’ That’s fool-hearty. You have to look at everyone you read, everyone you interact with, every person that inspires you and take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind. I don’t have to like a particular author or person to respect their progress and want to emulate areas I want to grow in where they have found success. That’s just smart. For time to call his avocations “fun” instead of “work” is just him removing mental hurdles. Every human being wants to escape pain and find pleasure. Tim has just programmed his mind to respond to things that are work with a student’s attitude, which is pleasurable for him. Even Anthony Robbins talks about that concept.

      • NotTim
        NotTim says:

        “There is no honor in capitalizing pushiness. There is honor in talent and hard work.”

        I used to think that. I slaved away for my company for 9 years, sacrificing my personal life because they couldn’t meet deadlines or plan ahead, and in exchange, I got no real reward.

        At the end of it all, I’d rather have good wages and benefits than honor. I should’ve been pushy and I should’ve screwed people over, like the beta males posing as alphas who are “running” the company now. Maybe then, I could afford to retire someday. You can’t cash honor.

        • Larry Garfield
          Larry Garfield says:

          If you think the answer to “the boss is an idiot and is screwing me over” is “screw someone else over in turn”, then no, you don’t have any honor and deserve to get fired.

          The better answer, the honorable answer, is to grow some balls and stand up to the “beta male posing as an alpha” boss, make an end run around him to his boss and assert yourself that way, or move to a new company where they don’t screw people over. (Yes, they exist. I work at one.)

          Nothing excuses dishonorable behavior, especially not someone else’s.

      • tyandor
        tyandor says:

        It was not the competition that was outsmarted, it was the game itself. Having “outsmarted” the game in this way, the very possibility of winning was already lost.

      • MAfakr
        MAfakr says:

        It’s not outsmarting the opponents, as they have no say as to how big they are. Most if they could would probably like to be as big as him or bigger.

    • Jeff McNeill
      Jeff McNeill says:

      They changed the rules after Tim did his rule exploitation thing. Yep, basically whatever Tim does is ultimately not sustainable, aka fraudulent. I don’t want to live in a world of Tims, no one does.

  3. Bea
    Bea says:

    Good for you. I need to stick up for myself more often and I’m even more inspired now. I was thinking about reading his book but now I’m having second thoughts. It sounded too good to be true anyway.

    • Ranier
      Ranier says:

      To not read the book because of someone else’s smearing is to do yourself a disservice. Like it or not, at least give it a chance to stand on it’s own two legs.

      Personally, that book energized me in a way no book has before. I admire Tim’s approach to a lot of different things (some stuff I don’t agree with, he has a sort of amoral penchant at times). I found his theory on simplification of one’s life ideal and completely do-able.

      I don’t think he’s tried to pass himself off as a GREAT guy, (he lambasted himself over outsourcing his dating life) but this article doesn’t do him justice.

      To be honest lady, Tim Ferriss is the ONLY REASON I FOUND YOU.


      • C
        C says:

        To be honest lady, Tim Ferriss is the ONLY REASON I FOUND YOU.


        Lots of things are good in moderation. Most things are less beneficial in excess. Applying Tim’s principles in moderation where they are most effective in your life can really make a huge difference. You don’t have to go whole-hog like he does. Besides, he’s pretty up-front that the idea is not to stop doing stuff, just to shift focus to doing things you like. Indeed, painting doesn’t seem like work to me, even though I can sell my art – because I love doing it. I love finding ways to streamline life to allow me to do more biking, painting, singing and cooking, and Tim opened my eyes to some new possibilities.

        To not read his book because this blogger doesn’t like the author is to do yourself a disservice. I recommend the audio version if you spend time in the car.

      • Elle
        Elle says:


        There are many smart individuals in this world and I am sure you, like Tim, are one of them. But to stumble upon a professional who I am supposed to trust, personally and public ally slating another only highlights the reasons why I wouldn’t work with you or trust your professional judgement. This is a huge mistake on your behalf. This post isn’t even comparable to a professional disagreement that has gotten out of hand and it appears that this is a post thrown out there as a result of your own insecurity and upset. I do not know why you dislike Tim (you say hate but I am sure that is out of anger) but the Internet, let alone your professional blog, is not the place to broadcast it.

        There is nothing brave nor admirable about this negativity.

        I hope you feel better soon and learn to turn your anger into a more neutral, less hormonal teenage like state, for your sake.

      • Akin
        Akin says:

        Agreed. Reading Tim Ferriss leaves me with a feeling of empowerment. But also with a bad aftertaste, so to speak.

    • MindBodyCoach
      MindBodyCoach says:

      What Tim does is sell books, and he does it very well. But he also sells hope in a different future which we can control a whole lot more than we already do. His methods are different than just about anyone else’s and his ethics surrounding those methods may be different than yours, but does that mean that what he teaches is worthless? Even if he was a “do as I say, not as I do” type of person, does that mean we shouldn’t listen and tease out what works for us? If he was telling people to leave their spouses or abandon their children, I could understand the furor.

      Even though I don’t live my life or agree with some of the choices Penelope makes or has made, does that mean I don’t have something to learn by reading her work? She puts her own ideals into practice as best she can and shares it with all of us. While we would hope that someone who writes work that helps people does so selflessly and has other very positive attributes, why can’t we just take the work at face value and let the guy be who he is. If he’s slimy, fine. Do things differently than he does. We have to walk our own path, after all.

    • Jezzer
      Jezzer says:

      Tim Ferriss certainly has a lot of time to make sock puppet accounts. It must be because of his four-hour work week.

  4. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    I’m highly suspicious of all highly successful people. There is one good way to get there and a million awful, cheap, dirty, lazy, and evil ways of doing it. It actually surprising to see how many go the good route. (I’m not saying Tim did, because it doesn’t sound like he did.)

    About relationships: They are uber-taxing on time and energy… but mostly energy… which equates to time. Some people are really good at influencing people without really having a relationship with them (i.e. Hitler). No one will argue that such individuals’ influence is not far-reaching; the question is whether it’s worthy.

    The other disturbing thing is that some people are so happy even when they’re being so bad. It gives being good a bad flavor. I really hate people like that.

    • Robert MacEwan
      Robert MacEwan says:

      Hitler had an entire country licking their wounds from WWI desparately seeking someone, anyone to bring them back to glory. He played the weakness Germans felt and promised a better life. His relationship was with their wishes.

    • Stephen J. Ardent
      Stephen J. Ardent says:

      It’s an attitude like this that kept me in low paying hard labor jobs for far too many years. Int his case, my parents were dead wrong.

      Hard work does not necessarily equal success.

      Smart work does. And not paying attention to the naysayers.

      It has taken me all 50 years of my life so far to finally realize that all the people who would tell me things like – you can’t do that, or that’s not the way things are done – were full of crap and interested in only one thing; keeping me down to make their lack of satisfaction with their own life more bearable.

      If Tim’s a scammer, shame on him. But his ideas are sound.

    • psychicjim
      psychicjim says:

      I loved this article on time management and people wasting your time and what to watch out for.

      I meet time wasters all of the time. It must be part of the human condition I reckon.

      They are a pain, but my human-time-wasting detector is getting better with age.

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I don’t know Tim or read his blog. However I am looking forward to seeing a comment from him on this post – if he decides to do so. Qualities that you possess Penelope that I love and shine through in your writing are transparency and the ability to be genuine and honest with your feelings. Evidently Tim does not possess those qualities. I have a feeling this post may easily exceed 150 comments.

    • Lets call me Alex
      Lets call me Alex says:

      WOW … “Love her for this” … you are finding inspiration in this low ball writing, that does not speak well for you my friend. This is the most worthless piece of writing that I have ever seen. For it to be totally premised around Tim and the authors feelings about him …. I can actually see why your book did not work out. Dont mean to be mean about it, but then you did mention that we should call things for what they are. This is b**t, and I can assure you that I am not a Tim supporter or a Tim stooge or whatever Tim you are so scared. Let us see if you approve this and live by what you said above.

  6. Andy
    Andy says:

    Hey remember that time you started a startup that wasn’t really a startup but just another embarrassing way for you to compensate how massively insecure you are about yourself? You know, much in the same way you have to graphically discuss your sex and personal life because you feel like nobody will listen if you’re just “you”?

    I learned a lot from that too.

  7. Jane
    Jane says:

    At first I thought this would be a headline-grabbing bait-and-switch about how you really DO love Tim Ferris, but now I’m thinking not.

    You know who he reminds me of (just from this column and the About page you linked to first)? My exBIL, who left his wife of 7 years and their three children (ages 5, 3, and 1) last year.

    Clinical diagnosis? Narcissism.

    • Pamela
      Pamela says:

      My thoughts exactly. This guy comes across as an arrogant scam artist whose more concerned with self-promotion.

      And really, people, you were “slaving away” at jobs for 12-14 hours a day? I think Ferris is full of crap, I work eight hours a day, but I don’t work more than that. The choice isn’t to work 12 to 14 hours a day or work four hours a week. FFS.

  8. Alice Bachini-Smith
    Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    Like possibly most people who got something out of Tim’s book, I’m really not bothered what kind of a guy he is personally. Most books these days have ideas that work and others that either don’t, or not for oneself, including Tim’s book and your book. His ideas have been pretty thoroughly argued against by people who disagreed with them already, but his personality is not really relevant to that process. Priests need good personalities for their brands, career advisors much less so.

    Having said that, cult-ish leaders who inspire naively slavish followers generally do have personality flaws. They also tend to be supersuccessful at selling their stuff. And I like your time management tips :)

    • Giuliana
      Giuliana says:

      Good comment Alice! Probably Tim Ferriss might have some good handful ideas that work for him but the fact that he sells it as easy work is an exploitation of a human tendency of getting easy money, says everything about the kind of followers he is looking for, people who lacks critical reasoning and a decent level of ethics. The fact that there is a legion of followers of him only speaks about the quality of american education and values. I’ve read better ideas on books that were made non for profit or that were way less successful. What people does not see is that only a handful of de population has the focus and tenacity to implement the book ideas. Good post as well!

      • Lexie
        Lexie says:

        Tim Ferris has said and done a lot of things, but one thing he has NEVER claimed is that following the techniques in his book are “easy work”. He repeatedly points out that it may be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but beneficial in freeing up your time to do activities you actually enjoy in the near future. Your comment makes it fairly obvious that you’ve never read the book highlights your presumptuousness in making a generalized statement about the people who read and support the book, and who’ve been successful in doing that. You really are doing yourself a disservice, perhaps you should read it first? don’t just base your opinion on a post by a blogger who has dedicated a post to her personal hate that stemmed from admitted jealousy…but that’s just my opinion as well and I suppose we’re all entitled to ours.

  9. Geta Life
    Geta Life says:

    Dude – you’re clearly jealous that his books is way better than yours.

    This post is a cry for help!

  10. caren
    caren says:

    Beautifully said!! I’ve read the 4HWW, and although in principle it sounds great, you’re right – its worthless if you want to have a life filled with real connections, which is what we, as humans need to achieve authentic happiness.

    Plus, Tim is ultra-focus man. That sort of lifestyle is great for ultra-focus people, but seriously, who wants to do nothing but tango for 6 weeks straight? BORING!!

    I’m amazed at the amount of groupies this utopia has inspired and the funny thing is, I double ANY of them have achieved a 4HWW. Its bullshit. Thank you for calling him on it!

      • JuniorGman
        JuniorGman says:

        Penelope, and visitors here –

        I would reply and give my responses to all the hatred here…

        But, as someone who has learned more from Tim than anyone else in my life, first hand or via books, internet, etc,
        (including my parents, teachers, friends, etc.)

        I will try to keep it general, since firstly, as Tim and similar teachers have taught me, there is diminishing value and return in spending time on stuff like this.

        Pre-4HWW, I would have spent a few hours on rebuttals, being ADD as he’ll.

        Firstly, Would you say, Penelope, that this was an efficient use of blog space and personal time?

        To what end?
        I mean other than page ranking, which is why I found this page.
        I often question my viewpoint by searching for opposing views, for balance, despite me being a fan of Tim and his work.

        Say what you like about Tim, but I find he loves debate more than most, provided you qualify your position and be succinct,
        And one thing he certainly does not seem to spend much time on is criticism of particular people,
        But rather generally accepted opinion, which I find is often flawed.

        I heard that Tim criticized Malcolm Gladwell’s work, which I am also a fan of, so despite being a Tim ‘fanboy’ (I’ve been called worse, come at me, bro) I immediately went to his blog to hear his view and take task with him if necessary, as I don’t blindly follow anyone.
        It appears he was misquoted, he is also a fan of Gladwell’s work, and simply criticized a view Malcolm passed on, not his own, regarding the 10,000 hour rule of mastering a skill.

        What does anyone gain from ‘hatred’?
        That’s a strong word, used too lightly here.

        Hatred? Really?
        Not ‘dislike’? Not ‘my issues with Tim’s views’ but YEARS of HATING?

        Wow. That reflects poorly on you.
        I’ve heard Tim debate and criticize, but ‘hate’ is NOT a word I can recall him using.
        It’s not even necessary for it to be a part of your common usage.
        At the request of Tony Robbins, I began eliminating many negative words like this I used often.

        The results are unbelievable to my former self, whom I wouldn’t recognise and would avoid, as many others did.

        Haters gonna hate.

        Jesus had haters, for Christ’s sake (pun intended)
        It’s easy to criticize.
        Very easy.
        Humans are flawed, we are not yet perfect.

        We can strive to be…

        I don’t hate you,
        I pity you for allowing hatred to fester inside you,
        Which it does, like a cancer.

        Hate breeds hate,
        And the Law of Reciprocity returns it in kind.

        I urge you to breed it out before it destroys you.

        Tellingly, an above linked similar article has disappeared from that blog, (‘why I dislike Tim Ferriss’)
        Change of heart?

        What a shame people don’t spend as much effort spreading what they do love rather than what they hate.

        On the subject of posters claiming Tim avoids criticism and champions devotees-

        Who the hell doesn’t?

        How many people expend effort communicating with haters, other than to defend themselves or return that hate in kind?

        Not critics, but ‘haters’?

        Rant over, I’m drained.

        Peace out.

    • Sake Expert
      Sake Expert says:

      Plenty of people have, actually. One of my friends is now making 50K a months after two years of practically non stop travelling. Has built up a business empire online. Huge Tim Ferris fan.
      I am hoping to be next!

  11. malingere
    malingere says:

    I am wondering if the oral sex article the other day was directed towards Tim? You do sound a little like a woman scorned… So vitriolic..

      • Abigail
        Abigail says:

        Just because a woman has a problem with a man, doesn’t make it sexist.

        I think she covers her hatred of Tim Ferriss pretty evenly and addresses only personality and basic work issues.

        I thought this post was hilarious. Granted, i’ve never read the book, so I have no other side of the argument. But I tend to be suspicious of anyone who claims he or she can be successful in only 4 hours a week.

        That said, the point about work/fun and semantics created an interesting discussion for my husband and I. I’m of the opinion that you can love your work but that doesn’t make it not-work. And once you’re a hugely famous best-selling author, anything you do in relation to the book or the advice you give in has to be considered work. It’s just happens to also be a passion or to be enjoyable for you.

        • Shelley
          Shelley says:

          I wanted to say this was a fantastic writing, and I’ve never read the guy. But I’ve had to deal with corporate front groups, and what you say about whatshisname can work for them, too.

          But I also wanted to say to Abigail: great comment, especially about loving your work but it is your work. You can lose perspective if you merge work and play.

    • malingerer
      malingerer says:

      ok.. she sounded like a ‘person scorned’.. he did more to piss her off than she is telling us about..

      • Pamela
        Pamela says:

        Indeed! Spelling out exactly why she thinks he’s full of it in her blog post means that really, she’s a spurned lover or somesuch.

        If that’s the best you can do, I’d suggest you stop defending your idol, because you’re not exactly helping him.

      • tarjebie
        tarjebie says:

        What’s with the innuendo that she had to be spurned by Tim in order to dislike his tactics to selling books. If the sex roles were reversed, would this be an issue?

  12. Erin
    Erin says:

    This post had a lot of heart in it and is a great example of why I subscribe to your blog. You deliver career advice while calling Tim Ferris out for being a self-centered, conniving, ethically challenged, cheating, fraud.

  13. karen
    karen says:

    No, I think she actually said what a lot of people have been thinking, but have been afraid to say.

    I read his blog. I bought his book. ANd then I sold his book because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

    You are right in that time works incredibly hard. Yes, most of it is things that most people wouldn’t consider work. But he is not sitting on a tropical island drinking mai-tais 36 hours of the week the rest of us would be working.

    He is fiendishly successful, driven, and seems enormously happy. I wish him well. But his approach is not for me.

  14. Mike
    Mike says:

    Meh, I understand your points AND have read his book. Although a lot of it is not applicable I did take several key points away from it.

    About the Tango… He wanted to do that, he could stop at anytime. That’s not work.

    Work is being fired if you choose not to come in one day. Work is needing a job to afford living.

    You know?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is actually, I think, a core piece of the idea of a 4-hour work week. What is work? I think it might be a totally old-fashioned idea that work is something you don’t like. Why does it have to be that?

      I think a lot of this blog is about how generation Y is changing that for everyone. Work is about learning and friends and growing and teamwork. All stuff that is intrinsically good.

      Also, in a world where you are managing your own career and you have located the intersection of your own talent and what the market will pay for, you can quit any given job any time and do something else that might be more enjoyable.

      Finally, I really believe that having work is core to having a life. What we do with our time is our work. It’s a very Montessori outlook, I know, but it’s worth thinking about.


      • Sir Topham Hat
        Sir Topham Hat says:


        Please don’t tell me you’ve succumbed to the Protestant work ethic. Generations X & Y are the force changing this antiquated mentality. You are their voice and their guide in the job market. Please feed us more than “You can’t be Important without doing Important work”.

        -Sir Topham Hat
        Island of Sodar Railworks Supervisor
        Keeping really useful engines busy since 1923

      • Pratik Stephen
        Pratik Stephen says:

        You’re right on Penelope – “work” in today’s world should not equal “stuff you don’t like to do but have to”.

        But for LOTS of people it is still the case.

        When Tim calls it the “4 Hour Work Week”, he means, that you can reduce the amount of time you spend on stuff you don’t like doing but HAVE to.
        Like firing his annoying customers that didn’t contribute much sales anyways.
        He’s showing us how to set up a low maintenance / passive income source, which frees up time to go do whatever you enjoy doing, and possibly make even more money.

        I respect and follow both you and Tim. I’m sure Tim does come across as sly/manipulative at times, but that’s not the part that I respect him for.
        It’s for the “accelerated learning, and challenging limiting assumptions” bit that I respect him.

        I daresay, you “challenge limiting assumptions” too, and that’s one of the reasons I respect you!

      • Mark Stallings
        Mark Stallings says:

        I think there is a fundamental miss with the term ‘work’ and instead we should shift it to job and avocation. I like Tim’s book as it was a refreshing change from what was out there and he gave concrete enactable ideas. I tell everyone they should read it and tell me what they think. Where the book fails, in my opinion, is in this… I don’t have a job where I perform a menial task in exchange for money . I really like what I do and wake up excited to do it and it – an avocation. I don’t want to avoid doing it.

        On the other side, as soon as a friend showed me this post, I gleefully reposted it on my Skype group to the same people I tell to read Tim’s book. I’m sorry he caused you angst, but I am grateful for what came out of it.

    • Lars
      Lars says:

      But if he tangos for 6 weeks straight and then writes about it (or whatever experiment he’s doing) in a book or blog which generates money beacause of its stories or experiments…I’m sorry but that can’t be described as nothing but WORK.

      I’d love to be a free ride skier and live off my sponsors but it would still qualify as my job.

  15. Susan
    Susan says:

    It’s interesting he’s gotten under your skin enough that he got another large plug for his book on a top blog, even it is construed with negative connotations. Knowing Timmy, I’m sure he’ll credit his genius time management skills and email spam-backs to somehow entice you to post about it in a fury.

    I like when you tell the truth about how people can suck. Even if when it’s about yourself.

    • Bea
      Bea says:

      @ Susan,
      I actually don’t see many people judging him based on Penelope’s opinion. I certainly didn’t. I have a lot of books I want to read and my time is precious. I’d rather start with one that hasn’t gotten as much valid criticism, and if I get around to it, I’ll read Tim’s. I simply commended Penelope for speaking her mind.
      It sounds like you’ve quickly formed your own opinion about us too.

  16. Wayne Allen
    Wayne Allen says:

    Well, interesting. I’m amused by how many commenters, not knowing Tim, nor having read his book, are judging him on the basis of your OPINION.
    No wonder the herd mentality is alive and well.
    Read the book, form your own opinion.
    To restate, an opinion is totally subjective – is says volumes about the “opinion giver,” and nothing about the subject.
    There is Tim, and there is your opinion of Tim.
    There is “The Farmer,” and there is your opinion of The Farmer.
    People who confuse the two often end up buying swampland.
    Oh, Penelope. I enjoyed reading your opinion about what you judge to be the motivations of someone you had coffee with, despite the fact that you confess to hating him before you met him.
    When in doubt, borrow an opinion wherever one is available.

    • Derek Scruggs
      Derek Scruggs says:

      When in doubt, borrow an opinion wherever one is available.

      In the publishing world this is known as a “book review.” You can’t possibly read every book, so you use other people’s opinions to decide whether you should even try.

    • Holly Hoffman
      Holly Hoffman says:

      I read the book, read his website, and he sounds like a major douchebag. He even looks like a douchebag. If you call a spade a spade, is it herd mentality? Or someone finally challenging said herd mentality that’s been running around fawning over Ferris and the 4HWW?

      I’d said PT’s going against the grain on this one, pretty clearly.

      • Jerry
        Jerry says:

        @Holly Hoffman
        “I read the book, read his website, and he sounds like a major douchebag.”
        From YOUR blog

        “I tried the "friends with benefits" thing with GIWS, who actually ended up becoming one of my best friends after our relationship ended, but that got messy fast and I decided for the sake of our friendship that needed to be an "emergencies only" kind of thing.
        New Year's Eve rolls around. And I pick up a guy in a bar. And take him home. I haven't done it since like, college. ”

        And you say Tim’s the douchebag?

      • Markus
        Markus says:

        No, Jerry, I’d say you’re a douchebag — your only comment is based on her sex life? She slept with a guy she wasn’t married to? Clearly nothing she has to say has any validity.

        I had to Google a picture of Ferris, and yeah, he looks like a douche. Especially after having read his book. The tone starts to grate as the smugness wears through.

        • Jen
          Jen says:

          Anyone that uses the term douchebag is a douchebag… You label people to bring yourself up and put the other person down which is supposed to be one of the traits of a “douchebag” right?

  17. Meridith
    Meridith says:

    Tim’s whole “Four-Hour Work Week” shtick is a gimmick. A big fat gimmick. And unfortunately, that’s what sells books, a gimmicky title. Just look at the book, The Flat Belly Diet. It’s the same thing as the four-hour work week. Every woman wants a flat tummy like Giselle Bundchen or Marisa Miller, and they’re going go out and buy The Flat Belly Diet in search of the Holy Grail of diets, and maybe they’ll lose a few pounds, but they’re not going to have abs like Giselle’s. I’ve looked at the pictures in that book, and while all the women in the photos look beautiful, their tummies are not wash-board flat, and they’re all shot at an angle to give the illusion of a flatter tummy.
    There. Now I’ve vented and I feel better.
    Thanks for uncovering the B.S. on this one.

  18. Lee Potts
    Lee Potts says:

    By the time I finished (or rather got tired of) reading this book, I was both repulsed by many of the tactics it suggested and relieved that I borrowed it rather than bought it.

  19. Gib Wallis
    Gib Wallis says:

    Thanks for writing this.

    Things Ferriss does that really annoy me, both on his blog and his book are:
    1. redefine whatever the objective measurement is so that he’s successful at it
    2. lie when redefinitions don’t work.
    3. trumpet any small success or achievement as a big one, and leave out the pesky details

    For instance with (1), he took someone else’s advice about not being negative in speech and redefined what the metric was. So he could chew someone out as giving feedback without counting towards his negativity. Um, hello? That’s part of the whole challenge if you’re a boss or a parent. He writes himself a get out of negativity card.

    For (2), he advises in his book to offer for sale a good that’s really only an idea, and then use the responses as a beta test for the marketing. With two examples, the boy and the girl, the girl didn’t want to market a yoga DVD because she was too honest to do so. She made it first. He obliquely referenced this as her having an ethical issue rather than “I don’t want to lie” which is what his advice was.

    For (3), he talks about being a tango champion. And he often writes about this in the context of other things, along the lines of tango is about style and grace and strength while comparing it to another activity. But he leaves out that he didn’t win on anything we consider essentially tango. He won a Guinness Book record for the most number of turns. Which, coincidentally, he shares with his female dance instructor, because, you know, it takes TWO to tango.

    He does have some interesting things to say, but his work reminds me of the book “Never Be Lied to Again” which has some excellent tips but then proceeds to tell you how to lie and trick and trap someone into telling you the truth.

    Both are malefic in similar ways.

    • Monica O'Brien
      Monica O'Brien says:

      What surprises me about this comment is the negativity towards the three things you described about Tim Ferriss.

      First, I think in moderation points 1, 2, and 3 are what most people who are good career managers do. Number 2 where you use “lied” I would say that’s just a restatement of number 1, where truth is redefined.

      The second thing about this comment is you chastise Tim Ferriss for these things, yet read Penelope’s blog where many of these concepts are at the root of her advice. How often does advise to redefine the situation so you are successful, or tout small achievements as big ones and gloss over failures?

      That’s not a criticism to her, I think those things are great advice for managing a career. Maybe Tim Ferriss has more to offer than you think.

  20. Mike Waling
    Mike Waling says:

    Tim’s book, I think, was more about “lifestyle design” (a term he coined) than working only four hours a week. Tim has said on my occations that the title of his book was hyperbole. It worked too – he’s a bestseller.

    And really, Tim’s book is probably the BEST book out there in terms of a “how-to” on negotiating what you want out of life. Tim obviously a successful guy — which makes him an authority on the topic.

    I’m sure someone has also brought up the point that everything should be taken with a grain of salt. Tim has some great points, but also some terrible ones (i.e. auto-responder).

  21. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    I normally would not get all preachy, but I would urge you to rethink using the term “hate”. One, it should be beneath you, and two, do you truly hate him? That is a powerful word, that should not be bandied about to catch peoples attention.

    A very practical approach is to respect those you dislike or those who dislike you and appreciate them for the lessons they teach you.

  22. Elsworth Toohey
    Elsworth Toohey says:

    I got sucked in by Timmy for a while–subscribed to his RSS and everything. Then I realized just what you said today: He’s a cheat and a second-hander and a huge liar. I dropped him from my feed.

    The sad thing is, he will undoubtedly convolute your post and the comments so that in his mind they somehow inflating his success — never doing a lick of “work” while he does so, of course.

  23. LexieB.
    LexieB. says:

    I didn’t know who he was until this post.

    He has over 13,000 followers on twitter and actually follows ZERO, which tells me that what other people say isn’t important. I loathe him.

    • @AcutelyObtuse
      @AcutelyObtuse says:

      This is a directly lie and falsification, he responds and talks back to followers, quite a bit, more so than some other bloggers I could name.

      If you don’t like what Tim has to say and agree with Penelope then fine, but don’t make up rubbish lies.

      • flow
        flow says:

        Really AcutelyObtuse? Ok, name them then? And, um, you do understand how Twitter works, right? If he’s NOT following anyone, that means he’s NOT seeing anyone’s status updates, and therefore it’s NOT possible for him to “reply” to anyone.

        And do you REALLY think that the great, time-managing genius Tim Ferriss is actually the one responding to people on his own blog lol? Or the one actually writing the blog posts at all? Didn’t you read his book? Someone living in a hovel in “3rd world country” is doing it for him for $4/hr lol :D :D

  24. Ally S
    Ally S says:

    Wow – I thought the conclusion to this post would be something positive about him – like ‘you hate him so much you can’t forget him’ or something. But no, it really is just a diatribe about a guy who wrote a book. Which I will now read. I just ordered it from Amazon.

  25. Greg Rollett
    Greg Rollett says:

    I feel like I should chime in here with something as I am actually a big supporter of Tim and what he has accomplished and also of P, whom I have had great personal conversations with. While Tim no doubt has some qualities about him that are off center, isnt that what it takes to get ahead in the entrepreneurial world. Maybe not cubicle nation, but to get ahead of your competition and grab the balls of your industry, you need to be a little out of whack.

    For anyone who doesn’t know the gist of the title, that is pure marketing. No one works 4 hours, whether you perceive what you do with your time as work or voluntary exercises (tango, kickboxing, video games). What he did was bring the ideas of lifestyle design into the forefront of mainstream culture, sold a few books and became someone with a voice.

    By sending him email or joining in correspondence, you are opting into his voice. If you don’t like it unsubscribe. That is the beauty of life, everything we do is opt-in, from the tv shows we watch to the books we read to showing up to work, we have the choice to say no. The consequences of those choices are not always favorable, but it is an opt-in choice.

    I like how you are stirring the pot this week P! Its a great marketing move, if nothing else.


  26. Tia
    Tia says:

    Thanks for being consistently willing to say what the rest of us sometimes think but are afraid to articulate out loud. Brava.

    P.S I saw him in NY this summer and heard him speak; 10 minutes in and every gut feeling I had about his depth was confirmed. A bit like a naked Emporer, complete with room full of adoring fans too impressed with sales numbers to state the obvious.

  27. Noelle
    Noelle says:

    Penelope, what you said about time management not being an equation but being about relationships rang so true to me I nearly cried.

  28. Aimee
    Aimee says:

    I think a better title for Tim’s book would be “how to make loads of money and only do 4 hours a week of work you hate.” But that wouldn’t sell many books would it?

    Even if you love your job, there are usually a few tasks that you hate doing. I hate the phone, but particularly voice mail. What I took away form 4HWW was to think differently what we consider typical work. I’ve since changed my voice mail message to request people send me an e-mail for a more prompt response. The reality is that I never check voice mail.

    Auto-responses to e-mail are beyond annoying, but some people will still feel compelled to use them. Strangely, some people still expect immediate responses to all e-mails, despite the fact that a)it’s impossible and b)trying to do so would prevent me from ever doing the part of my job that I enjoy.

  29. acorn
    acorn says:

    I don’t know this TIm Ferris guy but what a pompous P.I.G. I’m especially endeared by his automated email responses about how he only checks email twice a day. You are absolutely correct: NA. When he goes to the bathroom, does he include that in his automated email response? “This is TIm Ferris. I only check email twice a day. Also, when I am not checking email, I might be in the bathroom. Other than that, my day is too important to check emails and to wipe my ass.

    It’s unfortunate that buffons like Tim Ferris exist but you were smart to find the value add: you learned five time management techniques from this fool. Bravo to you Penelope!

  30. Sucker
    Sucker says:

    I was such a sucker I bought his book before reading the bad reviews on Amazon. (Well, at least I got it with a gift certificate.) Unless you want to sell phony “brain quicken” supplements to college students don’t expect to have a four hour work week. I did get a good laugh out of it though. Maybe not $20 work of laughs but it’s a book that is definitely worthwhile to read on the toilet or while you’re in line at the DMV. Just check it out of the library.

  31. Mark Orlando
    Mark Orlando says:

    I have both your books sitting side by side on my bookshelf. While I like them both, I think you are the far better writer. Of course I subscribe to your blog but not to his. You write with sincerity and humility. When reading Tim’s work, it always feels like he’s bragging.

  32. Yang
    Yang says:


    This post particularly caught my eye as this blog and F’s blog are the only two “personal” blogs to which I subscribe. I’ve always considered the two blogs as very different: your blog is for professional and more career related advice, whereas Tim’s is for more lifestyle and personal life advice. I stumbled onto your blog as I was looking for resume tips and I stumbled onto his blog as I was looking for a way to more efficiently pack for a backpacking trip.

    You’re right, I’ve never bought into Tim’s 4HWW because it’d never work in a corporate system and he uses technicalities and what he refers to as “life hacks” to accomplish so much in such a short span of time. I also realize that he’s a complete douchebag just from his posts, and after watching his show, “Trial by Fire”, it pretty much reaffirmed that for me. I don’t think the man has one genuine relationship and most of his contacts are people he’d name drop and network with, but never develop something real.

    Yes, he does take it to the extreme, but he has a clear goal — to lifehack everything and anything and accomplish much more than anyone before he dies. Doing that makes him extraordinary and requires him to push things aside, like relationships.

    It’s not for everyone and it’s not all for me, but I can pick and choose his advice for quickly obtaining new skill sets for my personal life and I’ll stick with you for my career advice to obtain that balance that’s perfect for me.

    Keep up the good work and I loved this post because it gives me an idea of what the guy is like from someone who has actually met him face to face and didn’t fall in love with the guy. It’s like reading that one negative review on Amazon. Superb.

  33. MJ
    MJ says:

    Hey, could you take on Steve Pavlina and his polyamory as personal development posts next? I’d buy tickets to read that!

  34. Richard
    Richard says:

    You are always a good writer, but you’re at your peak best when you’re pissed off. Go girl. Idiots like this Tim guy need to be outed and outed and outed at every possible opportunity.

  35. Alison Charter-Smith
    Alison Charter-Smith says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Thank you for your honesty and courage to “keeping it real”. What a refreshing change. There are too many people out there in the world who say one thing to your face, and stab you in the back when your not looking. Keep it up!

  36. LT
    LT says:

    You are a better writer than Tim is. Too bad he spammed your site. That isn’t what grown-ups do. Instead they learn to better themselves.

  37. Paco
    Paco says:

    I’m always on the fence with your blog, trying to decide whether to delete it from my RSS feed. You may have just won my subscription for life.

    I’ve thought for years that Tim Ferriss fits the classic profile of a sociopath.

  38. The Sassy Sexpert
    The Sassy Sexpert says:

    Your point about relationships is spot on in my opinion. The thing is though, I think, some people like Tim cannot understand the pure value of supporting a relationship with so much time and energy – they are about having others outside acknowledge their successes and being financially compensated for their work. Quite a few people experience relationhips in the periphery of their lives since they are unable to see the inherent value of mutual support amongst people. It’s too abstract for them.

    I do think the majority of people do feel though that success isn’t real success unless you have people in your life to share it with.

    However, people like Tim, truly cannot understand why others place so much emphasis on them (and in their minds “waste” their efforts).

  39. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    I was initially turned off by Tim's strategy to win in kickboxing; however, I then found the similarity of his strategy to a billionaire I admire. Roger Penske. Roger took the rules, found a loop hole, and blew the competition away. He converted a wrecked Formula 1 car into a 2 seat sports car, known as the Zerex Special. This was controversial, but look at the fame and wins behind this small tweak.

    Mr. Penske differs from Tim in regards to relationships. He is humble and values his friendships/relationships, so I’m not saying the two are similar in character at all.

    • aad
      aad says:

      Roger Penske created a real product that people wanted
      Tim Ferris won the right to kiss his own ass and screwed real champions out of a competion for which they undoubtedly trained very hard and in which they all looked forward to competing. so Penske created something/Ferris nothing.Penske has the entrepreneurial spirit/Ferris has dick headedness

    • Samantha
      Samantha says:

      She does a little. But it is hard not to with that story. We’ve all been duped by salesperson trickery in some way and felt like that at some point.

  40. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Well, after giving this post some more thought, I think you should stop “hating” Tim – two years is too long. His approach has obviously solidified your core beliefs regarding teamwork, relationships, being self-centered, semantics, etc. Maybe you should thank him for becoming a benchmark – an antithesis – at least in some respects as you have outlined above.

  41. Benjamin Goodger
    Benjamin Goodger says:

    This is an excellent post and I’m glad it appeared on Metafilter. I suspected at first that it might just be a vitriolic jealousy rant, but much of what you say rings true to my opinion of Mr Ferris. Thanks for writing it.

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