How I Broke Free Using 5 Lessons From The 4-Hour Work Week

In the summer of 2007 I read a review of a little known book (at that time) The 4-hour Work Week. I was fascinated with the core concept espoused in the book and ordered it through Amazon and read it in one seating.

Then came an opportunity for me to get an early retirement from my company where I was working for 10 years. I took the early retirement package.

I cashed on a few more opportunities that I was pursuing as an independent business operator and realized close to 300K in my checking account. I had a valuable skill set through an MS degree in Computer Science,  10 years of work experience and a few independent projects.

For the first time I realized that I could create salable assets using my skills. I truly realized financial freedom . I felt like, at last, I broke free from the chain that was holding me to a location and 9-5 jobs.

The book had profound impact on my lifestyle, I how I take jobs, residence, and work.  I will discuss a few brilliant lesson learned from the book if you ever want to break free from your routine life

1. The 80/20 Principle – 80% Output is the Result of 20% Input

I was a 6-Sigma black belt and I knew the principle of 80/20 or Pareto’s Principle. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist concluded that 80% of the wealth and income was produced and possessed by 20% of the population.  But he also found the mathematical formula was applicable outside of economics as well. In fact, it could be found just about everywhere. For example,

  • 80% of Pareto’s garden peas were produced by 20% of the peapods he had planted.
  • 80% of company profits come from 20% of the products and customers.
  • 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers.

You could say 80% of the output is a result of 20% of the input.  Tim suggests that you can eliminate waste in your life by 80/20 ing everything.  I started doing at least once a month, preferable twice, to really see where I’m able to optimize my time, energy, money etc.  This is, by far, one of the best things to do to really discover where you should put your focus. I also realized that

1. Doing something unimportant does not make it important.

2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important. What you do is exponentially more important than how you do it. While efficiency is important, it is useless unless applied to the right things.

2. Deferred Life Plan is Bad Idea

Most people will work 40 years to get a nice retirement to live a dream life.  They will plan to defer whatever they want to a future when they don’t have to work for money anymore. This is normal. People have been doing this since the advent of white collar jobs.

For most people this is impossible unless you inherit your wealthy parents’ money  without participating in your father’s business.  For the first time in history Tim Ferriss showed us that it is possible to create cash without  consuming time (a muse). It was under my nose. I had a website that was making $40K a year (Classifieds For Free) and just sold a PPC arbitrage website for a nice chunk of money.

He further told us countless stories of how people have optimized their muse and outsource their day-to-day tasks in generating passive cash flow without  having to worry about money or job security. I was fully prepared to take the challenge that lied before me.

3. Cost of Inaction

What is costing you to quit your job, starting a business, traveling, getting healthy, or anything else, what are the costs of waiting?  I wanted to experience a hedonistic life style. I wanted to indulge in psychedelic and legal sexual pleasure without any constraints. Time is finite, and I was not guaranteed the next day. I was 44.

Tim says, “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”

At the age of 44, two decades after I graduated from university, I realized that I have enough money and a valuable skill to fall back for launching my hedonistic life journey. The feeling was great and most liberating.

4. The Guilt of Non-Finishing

From childhood we are taught that we have to finish a task once we start. From dinner to music lessons, from art class to Karate lesson, we are told to finish what we have started. We don’t want to be quitter.

Tim challenges the idea of finishing everything. He said just because you start something, doesn’t automatically justify finishing it. As an example he aid if you bought a  $9 bags of popcorn and 64oz drinks in a movie theatre, you don’t have to finish it.  Its okay to stop something that is boring or a waste of time if it isn’t required as part of your job.

Tim says, “Lifestyle design is based on massive action— output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.”

Enjoy the things that really matter to you. If you have passion for something, enjoy your passions. If you like to watch SciFi movies, don’t waste your time watching romance. If you like to play video game, don’t waste your time watching political debates.

5. Freedom Means Giving Up Control

I was a perfectionist and afraid to give up control when designing a software or system. I wanted to do every thing by myself. Being able to live in a way for the first few years due to the money I had in my banks, it was easy. However, after a few years when I started freelancing, I did not care to control software design and development process.

I set up systems to architect solutions and  outsource many aspects of design and development.  I was enjoying a 4-hour work week, leading a hedonistic lifestyle at the expense of some  one in India or Philippines working 40 or 60 hours to lead a normal lifestyle of a white collar worker.


5 Steps to Achieving Your Goals that Have Eluded You in the Past

Whether you want to quit smoking, loose weight, or save enough money for that fabulous vacation, you need to set a goal and try to achieve it one step at a time. It is not always easy. For myriad reasons, we fall off the wagon and never bother to get on board.

A commitment to achieving your goal is the key to success. But knowing how to reinforce your commitment from time to time so that you don’t go astray is also important. Reinforcing commitments regularly reminds us to catch the next train when we miss the one we are on board. The techniques described in this article will help you in reinforcing your commitments to achieving your goals.

1.  Set your goals in measurable terms and take small steps. Write your goals as precisely as possible. Instead of saying “I will loose weight”, write down “I will loose 30 lbs in the next three months”. Also, break it down into small steps. For example, “I will loose 10 lbs a month for three months.”

By setting your goals in measurable terms, you will have a solid idea of what successful completion of your goal means. By breaking down into small steps, you will be able to measure your success regularly and change your course if you are not meeting your intermediate goals.

2.  Create a tag line for your goal. Marketers use tag lines to catch people’s attention to their offerings. Remember the famous Coca Cola tagline – always coca cola? Tag lines are short keywords and phrases that are easy to remember. Create a tagline for your goal.

For example, if you want to save for a vacation and you need to reduce your vending machine spending, you can create a tagline like, vending machine vacation. Print out a number of cards with your tagline and put them in places where your can see your tagline all the time.

The phrase in a tag line itself is not that important. What is important is the emotional attachment to the tagline. Speak out your tagline whenever you are alone, e.g. during driving, while taking a shower, etc.

3.  Always day dream the success of completing your goal. As bad as it sounds, it is a very powerful tool. Once you get immersed in your day dreams, start developing emotional feelings about it. Make plans for all the things you are going to do once you have achieved your goal.

For example, plan for what you are going to do in your vacation, look around for dresses that you want to buy once you have lost those pounds, or open a new saving account where you want to put the extra money once you start reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke.

4.  Start a blog. Personal blog is an excellent way to record your goals, intermediate successes and failures. Google offers a free blog platform called blogger. Create an account for the blogger service and start recording your goals, why you want to pursue it, what is holding you back and your feelings when you achieve success.

Start reading a few self improvement blogs, post comments on those blogs, and share links to those blogs in your own posts. You will get lots of good ideas and insights from others’ blogs and receive tips and encouragements from readers’ feedbacks in your own blog. Your blog will motivate others to take actions. You can also earn money from Google’s AdSense program.


Create a facebook group and invite others to join you in setting and achieving goals together. This is a new type of social support group using social media. You will learn from each others and share information to keep everybody on track. Publish your blog posts and other interesting and informative posts from other blogs in your facebook group.

To achieve your goal, you have to take small bites one at a time and measure your success regularly. You need to get engaged and develop emotional attachment to your goals. Online tools like blogs and facebook groups help you develop passions and share them with others.

7 Steps to Prepare Yourself to Use Facebook for Professional Networking

A recent study by Comscore, the Internet information provider, indicates that over 20% web users have visited Facebook in December 2008. Comscore has also noted a gradual demographic shift from college students to professionals aged 35 years or older in the number of Facebook users. Majority of these users are using Facebook for professional and business networking.

Facebook is blooming into a platform to conduct business deals and professional meetings. Hundreds of professional Facebook groups are created every day for online marketing and customer-centric public relations campaigns. The line between social and professional networking is slowly blurring.

If you’re planning to use Facebook platform for professional networking, follow the 7 steps outlined below to separate your Facebook social life from the work life in the virtual world.

1. Create a professional profile. This is your second resume. Use resume writing techniques to polish up your existing Facebook profile. List your expertise and accomplishments in the “Write something about yourself” section. Uncheck everything in the “Looking for” section except Networking.

2. Use business related information in the Personal Information section, including the business book that you have recently read, some quotes from top business leaders in your field, your favorite business related TV show , and business magazines that you frequently read.

3. In the About Me sub-section of the Personal Information section, elaborate on your past achievements and list skills that you used in the past to solve business problems.

4. Remove all beer drinking pictures with your college buddies and fun poking applications from your profile. If you were a speaker in some seminar and you have pictures, upload them to your profile. If you have pictures with business leaders or intellectuals in your professional field use those pictures instead of your spring break surfing pictures unless you are looking for networking with surfing professionals.

5. If you want to keep your Facebook social life, create a second profile for your work life. People who are migrating from college life to professional career will find it beneficial to keep the two profiles separate so that they can poke their college buddies and make business deals at the same time using the Facebook platform.

6. Start reading and publishing contents related to your industry in various online magazines and post links to interesting and informative online contents and tools in Facebook status. If you already have a blog, publish your blog RSS field in Facebook’s My Notes.

7. Select only a few dozen friends and keep in contact with them using Facebook email and chat. Check out the Facebook group they subscribe to and join those groups. Post thought provoking comments in those groups to make yourself more visible. Help others by offering solutions to their problems.

The important thing to keep in mind is that whatever you share in your Facebook account, it is visible to everybody in your network. So be careful about how you professionally project yourself to the world while using Facebook. While there are dedicated professional networking sites like LinkedIn, you can still use Facebook for establishing professional relationship and conducting business deals.

7 Ways to Establish Your Personal Brand for Online Business Success

Whether you are a freelancer, internet marketer, offline business owner, or a recent college graduate who is looking for a job, you need to create a strong and professional online presence to succeed in today’s business world. How do you create an online profile that is recognizable and trustworthy? Follow the steps in this article and within a couple of months you will establish a polished online personal brand for yourself.

1. Get a domain. A top level domain, preferably a dot com domain, is a must for your personal brand. It can be a your name, your business name or some other assumed name that you want to associate yourself with. If you already own an offline business you can start with your business name.

Finding a short domain name is almost impossible these days. In most cases, you will be able to find a three words domain name easily. If your own name is somewhat unique, you can be that lucky one whose name is not already taken by domain squatters.

Use DomainBot to do your domain research. When you enter one or more keywords in the DomainBot search box, the website will suggest a large number of available domains that are different variations of your keywords. If you like a domain, you can directly register the domain with one of the domain registrars like godaddy or 1and1.

2. Get a website. After you register a domain, you need to get a web host to host your website. If you are absolutely not going to spend any money for web hosting, sign up for Google’s Blogger platform to start a blog. It is free. Use your own registered domain, instead of the default sub domain that Google offers for Blogger platform.

If you are ready to spend $25 a month, you can sign up for a reseller account at Hostgator. With a reseller account, you can create unlimited websites. Hostgator offers a commercial script library called Fantastico that automates installation of web applications in your sites. Start with installing a Word Press blog.

3. Get your globally recognized avatars. A globally recognized avatars or gravatar is a picture that follows you from site to site appearing next to your name when you do things like commenting in a blog, posting in web forums.

You can use your own picture or a professionally designed graphic image for your gravatar. If you are using a graphic picture, make it unique and get it done professionally. If it is your own picture, take the picture in a lighted area showing your face clearly.

4. Start a blog. Pick a few topics that you are interested in. One of them should be your chosen profession or business niche. Also pick topics related to your hobby or something that you want to learn more about.

Create an about page in your blog, put your avatars and tell your story in short 300-600 words. Make it interesting, intriguing, or humorous.

Go to Technorati, a blog directory, and search your topics to find blogs related to your interests. Subscribe to a dozen high quality, popular blogs using Google reader. Make a habit of reading a few interesting articles in your niche every day.

Now start writing your own articles for your blog regularly. If you like writing, you can write couple of times a week. If you have hard time coming up with topics to write about, start with a few articles a month and slowly work towards one article per week.

5. Visit blogs and forums related to your topic of interest. Leave insight full comments in other blogs and create interesting posts in forums. Create a forum signature with your gravatar in every forum you join.

Use a back link to your blog in your signature. When you create a post in a forum, your signature will be appended to your post. When you post a comment in a blog, use the URL of your blog and your gravatar name. You will be instantly recognized.

6. Create Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin Profiles. Facebook and twitter are two popular social media sites with millions of users. Facebook is mainly used for networking with like minded persons and Twitter is for sharing short timely messages about news, industry trends, interesting articles, and if you are doing any interesting thing. Linkedin is for exchanging information, ideas, and opportunities with professionals in your field.

Update Facebook status and post twitter messages every day. You can start with sharing interesting articles that you have read, productivity tips, interesting pictures, etc. You will soon find people start following you in Twitter if you are posting interesting things every day. Using Facebook’s friend suggestion tool, you can request friendship with others in the Facebook network.

7. Learn and use search engine optimization. It is a very valuable instrument at your disposal to propel you websites and social media profile pages for higher search engine rankings. You don’t have to be a professional in search optimization, just learn the basics and apply them whenever you create contents.

You don’t need to buy any expensive books or sign up for extensive training program. Use free information available online. You can start with SEOBook site and download some free ebooks on search engine optimization.


How To Keep Your Job And Survive A Job Loss

The job market is tough and a lot of people are out of work. The competition for a job opening is fierce. Many people are unable to to secure new jobs due to outdated skills and poor performance in their old jobs.

Outdated job skills and poor performance in jobs impact your financial situation greatly. Even if you already have a job, you need to take a serious look at your skills and job situation regularly to be on the top of your plan for any future mishap in the event of a job loss. Your financial health requires foresight and planning to avoid being laid off and to survive an income loss.

Write down all your job skills. It also helps you build a great resume. Now, evaluate each skill against emerging technology that can make your skills obsolete.

Find out if enrolling in a class will help you sharpen your skills in a technical, business, public speaking, marketing or any other field that is good for your career.

If so, check with your employer if you get reimbursed for continuing education. Many employers reward employees who are proactive on the job about continuing education.

If there is a certification course in your career field, get yourself certified. For example, if you’re involved in green building projects, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification vastly improves your job opportunities.

If you’re currently employed, assess your performance honestly. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you arrive at your job on time?
Do you complete all the tasks that are asked of you without constantly asking your supervisor for directions?
Do you meet all your deadlines?
Are you a team player?
Do you take initiatives and offer your help when your team is not able to meet deadlines?
Are you willing to work a few extra hours to meet deadlines?
Do you go out of your way to help or mentor new employees?

Good job performance is not just meeting the minimum. If you want your boss to keep you during the tough time, make yourself noticeable.

Keep your resume up-to-date in all online resume sites. You don’t have to make them public.

Maintain contacts with your colleagues and former bosses. They will often provide you inside information to open positions.

Use LinkedIn to main your contacts during the good time that you can leverage during the bad time.

Build your emergency savings when you’re in a job. When your regular income is eliminated due to a job loss, you should be able to draw from your emergency savings to survive the financial hardship for a few months. Most financial planners suggest to keep enough money in savings to cover eight months of basic living expenses.

8 Steps to Facebook Adventure

Once a social platform for college students, the 40 million active membership site facebook is the latest buzzword in social media marketing. However, most members are extremely online savvy and they smell blatant advertisements from miles away. It is important to know some basics and gain experiences in utilizing the site and interacting with its members before you start planning your facebook marketing adventure.

1. Create a profile. The first step is to create a profile. Sign up using your real name and upload some pictures. If you do not have an email with a top-level edu domain, by default you join a regional network based on your zip code or international address. Later, you have the option to join your company’s network and change your regional networks. You can change your networks twice in a 60-day period.

Always upload a profile picture. If you don’t upload a picture, facebook places a default question mark icon. It is a good strategy to show your face in facebook. Don’t use group pictures for your profile because others may have difficulty identifying you in the group pictures. Don’t use logos, your cute cat or dogs’ pictures, or a picture of your expensive car and boat.

You don’t have to fill all the profile information. Fill only the information you are comfortable sharing with others. If you want to find dates using facebook, fill up the relationship status feature of your profile accordingly. Don’t change the status often because others will notice it and doubt your trustworthiness.

2. Make friends. The site can find active facebook friends for you using emails in your address books of a few free web email providers like yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc. Once you get a few friends, new friend requests will pour in from your friends of friends. You can also search for friends and send requests. Work on creating a network of 100 to 200 friends. Don’t make friends with celebrities because in most cases these are fake profiles setup for marketing purposes.

3. Upload pictures and videos. Start uploading some interesting pictures and group them in albums of travel pictures, baby shower photos, bachelor party scenes, etc. Pictures help people connect with your life without meeting you face to face. Always upload a number of related pictures or themes.

Create a random albums and put all your random pictures in the random album. Tag your pictures to identify people on the pictures. When you tag your friends in your pictures, they show up in their wall. You can also share your albums with others outside facebook. You can upload personal videos using your browser or mobile phone and directly record videos to facebook.

4. Use friends’ walls and never post on your own wall. You have a wall in facebook for others to write notes. Don’t write in your own wall. Write in your friends’ walls. Your friends will write notes, share videos or links in your wall. You do the same in your friends’ walls. When a friend posts something on your wall, reply to the post. If you find the posting annoying, politely ask them to back off and clean up your wall.

5. Join a few groups. There are all sorts of organic groups in facebook. These are groups of people with similar interests. Find a few that interest you and join them. You can create your own group but first find out if one exists on the same topic. This is an excellent place to be creative and get support from a bunch of people for your cause.

6. Create events and invite people. If you want to host a party, this is the feature you will use. Create your events and invite others to join. You can make an event public for your friends to see or private for the invitees to browse. Under my event, you can browse your friends’ public events. You will immediately know who are your fake friends because they did not invite you to their gala dinner they are hosting.

7. Send notes and share links. You send notes to your friends. Depending on the topic, you can send a note to a few friends or to all friends in your network. Don’t send chain letter notes because people find these repulsive. Your notes show up in your friends’ news feeds or on their walls. A tagged note shows up on the wall, otherwise, it is found in the homepage news feed. Use share for sharing links, even though you can use this feature for sharing notes. Share that link of a cheap travel-booking site you have found while surfing the net with friends planning their upcoming vacations.

8. Visit your homepage everyday. Besides your profile page in facebook, you also have a homepage. You homepage displays collaborative news feeds of all your friends, event and group invitations, friendship requests, friends’ birthdays, etc. If you want to know what is going on in your facebook friend circle, visit your homepage everyday.

The other features of facebook are poke, marketplace, facebook mobile, and hundreds of applications that enhance the facebook experience. As the facebook awareness grows, online marketers have started pounding the facebook door to gain a foothold. Future articles will discuss different ways to market your products and services to facebook members without insulting their intelligence.