The Most Dangerous Book You Could Read

This book is dangerous. It can literally destroy your ambition, one of the most important success traits you can have. Unfortunately, young people are the most common victims.

Every summer I travel to a small resort outside of Trakai, Lithuania to teach at the BlackSmith Camp for Liberty and Entrepreneurship. We work with fifty bright, ambitious students from over thirty-five countries. This year one girl traveled for three days from a remote village in Zimbabwe just to join us at this life-changing event.

Each year, my friend and camp organizer, Simon Black, gets frustrated by some of the attendees that have been corrupted by this book.

I hope it hasn’t tainted you too. So let’s find out.

What I want you to do is to think back to when you first read this book and answer me this…

“How did you hope your life would change after reading it?”

“Did you really expect to achieve the literal results that the title promised you?”

If so, then you too have been seduced by…

The 4-Hour Work Week.

With the wrong perspective, it could be the most dangerous book in the world to your ambitions.

Back at the camp, a few students had revealed their diabolical plans to Simon. It went something like this…

“I’m going to use the 4-Hour Work Week system so I can surf all day, play X-box all night, and work as little as possible.”


That’s not what Tim Ferriss meant.

Nor is that the life he follows.

You know why?

Because a literal 4-hour work week is a life WITHOUT meaning.

Imagine this…

…you’re a smart, energetic 22-year old kid. After reading the 4-Hour Work Week, you discover how to leverage or arbitrage your knowledge into a business. But then you take it too far and aim to make just enough money to get by while working just 4 hours per week.

Seven years come and go…then BOOM – you’re 29 years old.

You stand on the cusp of 30…having accomplished NOTHING… because you’ve drowned your ambitions in a sea of mediocrity. All this because you were chasing the “minimalist lifestyle” and a bloody 48-minute work day.

Where is the honor in that? Where would you stand in your journey to change the world? How many years would you have “designed away” in your lifestyle experiments?

It would have been a waste of what could have been the most productive decade of their lives.

Now don’t get me wrong, Tim’s ideas are solid and can make your life easier and better – and will even benefit strangers living in far away places…

That said, I guarantee there’s no Early to Rise reader working just 4 hours per week.

…And if you do only work 4 hours per week, you’re either:

A) No longer a value adder to the world


B) Unemployed and also not adding value to the world

So that’s why The 4-Hour Work Week can be the most dangerous book you could ever read.

It should come with a WARNING label, one that says…

“Do NOT take this book title literally. If you do, you will waste your life. Instead, use these ideas wisely in order to generate MORE value to the world.”

But the book spawned a movement – one that has taken on a life of its own – and has the potential to crush your dreams.

That’s right, CRUSH your TRUE dreams rather than helping you achieve them.

This movement is stealing value from the world because too many people are looking for an excuse to do nothing – and to be proud of it.

The Value Extractor Movement (VEM) will kill you.

It encourages VEMmers to work as little as possible all day – as if THAT were an honorable way of living.

It tells you to lock your talents up in a toolbox and keep them hidden from the world.

Its seductive siren call sings in your ear, “Forget all of the people you could be helping…work less…do less…BE LESS.”

And worst of all:

“Expect something for nothing.”

And that’s wrong.

Flat out wrong.

Let me ask you something…

Do you know what happens to a lot of people when they retire?

What happens to them when they stop adding value to the world?

They die.

Inside and outside.

And being a part of the VEMmer movement will kill your soul and dreams, too.

A 4-hour work week might not seem like such a bad idea now…

…because of the struggles you’re going through today. You feel like you’ll never be able to enjoy a 40-hour work week, let alone one of only 4-hours.

Right now you feel like you’re working or studying all the time in a hardscrabble existence…as you struggle to build your business…perhaps as you work two jobs…and as you worry about losing them.

That’s why the 4-Hour Work Week sounds so seductive.

But you know what?

The way you are living, fighting, and working today is better.

Yours is the honorable way to live because you’re finding a way to add value to the world.

So trust me…

…there will come a time when you breakthrough and achieve more success than you’ve ever dreamed of. And that’s when it will be tempting to become complacent. To stop working so hard. To stop adding value.

One day it will be hard for you to resist that siren’s call of the comfort zone.

When that day happens, after you’ve achieved more than you ever thought possible, I urge you to never give in, and never give up on making a bigger difference in the world.

Don’t succumb to the selfish ideals of the VEMmers.

Resist the temptation, for…

“That which is most satisfying is that which is earned. Anything received free of charge is seldom valued. You can’t get something for (from) nothing. The price is too high.” – Kekich Credo #38

That’s one of my favorites.

A true principle by which to live your life.

Add value and get what you deserve.

Earn what you want.

Do not be ashamed, embarrassed, or discouraged to WORK for a living…to put in your time…and to sacrifice some leisure time in order to change the world.

Be proud of it.

Now more than ever the world needs people like YOU.

And you know what? I have a funny feeling the 4-Hour Work Week didn’t get as popular as it did because those promoting it spent 48 minutes per day at work.


So listen…

If you’re reading this, you’re young and you have a lot of life left and a lot of love to give the world.

(And “young” refers to anyone under 70 years of age, in my opinion. That’s how old my mom is and she’s still adding value to the world by volunteering. Heck, she volunteers a heck of a lot more than just 4 hours per week.)

So change your mindset.

Stop thinking, “How little can I work? How much value can I EXTRACT from the world? How can I get something for nothing? How can I weasel my way out of the responsibility I have for using the amazing talents that I’ve been given?”

If you literally tried to work 4 hours per week, you’d be robbing the world of your talents, and robbing yourself of true satisfaction.

In 10 years from now, what type of person would look back and be proud of their decision to work just a few hours per week?

I doubt anyone would be satisfied with that…instead, you would look back on your (empty) life with regret and sadness.

Thinking that you failed.

That you failed to pursue your vision…and that you failed to accomplish your mission in life, the one that you were born to accomplish.

How would that feel?

What kind of “lifestyle design” would you have achieved?

An empty one, at best. A wasted one, at worst.


The person that invests their life force and an honest work ethic into adding value will look back and be satisfied.

The person that focused externally on changing the lives of OTHERS rather than internally on sucking out value for themselves…that person would truly have the life well lived.

I encourage you to take a lesson from the REAL life of Tim Ferriss, rather than the misguided VEMmers spawned by the book.

Look at what he really does, and ask yourself…

“How can I leverage my time to add MORE value to the world? How can I connect with the right people? How can I do more, BE MORE, serve more, and educated more? How can I become a person of influence and a creator of value?”

The 4-hour Work Week is an important book – when used wisely.

It belongs up there with other must reads like Dan Kennedy’s No-BS Time Management, Dan Sullivan’s Unique Ability, and Michael Masterson’s Reluctant Entrepreneur.

So I leave you with the TRUE definition of the 4-hour work week.

What you’re going to do each week is to set aside an hour per day, at least 4 days per week, where you’ll think about nothing but how you can add value to the world.

Heed this wisdom from a man that both Tim and I greatly respect:

“An hour of effective, precise, hard, disciplined – and integrated thinking can be worth a month of hard work. Thinking is the most difficult thing to do in business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work.” – Dave Kekich (Credo #44)

Empire builders don’t believe in a 4-hour work week.

Value adders don’t believe in extracting MORE for themselves in exchange for delivering as little as possible.

So take the Most Dangerous Book that you could read and turn it into one of the Most Powerful Tools on your success journey.

Quit with the idiotic “minimalist” living and return to “maximalist” value adding.

Become great. Live your life as a leader.

“The great leaders I’ve studied are all people whose energy and drive are directed outward. It’s not about themselves. It’s about something greater than themselves.” -Jim Collins

Break free from the “something for nothing” mindset. Break away from the selfish VEMmers.

Work hard.

Give more back to the world.

That is my challenge to you.

What do you think about the “anti-work” movement? Should we be focused more on helping others through adding value than encouraging people to work less? Have your say here.

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with a web-based business that you can operate from anywhere in the world – including a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or anywhere around the world where there is Internet access. Discover how you can achieve the American Dream and your financial independence here. You’ve never seen anything like this before.]
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  • David Foulke

    I just finished re-reading the 4 Hour Work Week a few weeks back. One of the points that was very clearly stressed by Tim Ferriss is that one must always stay active and challenged. The 4 Hour Work Week is more about creating the independence to live a full productive life on your own terms. It is indeed about maximizing your own potential and avoiding the time wasting traps of traditional business. Boredom is the true enemy. Great article.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks David, well said.

  • Lewis

    I think it depends a lot on how you define “work”. If you sort out that “pesky money issue” early on in life, you can then do whatever you want with your time regardless of how well it pays. This, for most people, doesn’t mean sitting in the sun reading crappy novels. It means giving their time to the causes they most care about, like your mother being able to volunteer at least 4 hours a week, because she has the time to do it and a pension to pay the bills. The 4 Hour Work Week is about achieving both the money and time, long before than your 70th birthday, in order to do what your heart tells you to do, regardless of the amount it pays.

  • Great article Craig. I read the book, and then looked for information on Tim’s life to better understand where he was coming from. He said in an interview and indicated other places that he worked on his nutritional supplement company day and night for 6 years and nearly killed himself doing it.

    That experience, of course, spawned the need in him to simplify things. The problem is, he seems to assert that this kind of work can be avoided completely when in fact his hard work laid the foundation for the life he enjoys today.

    I don’t think he gave his years of dedicated work the credit it deserves, and it is very dangerous when you try to skip that part.

    Thanks for bringing this up Craig. It’s well timed for some people I’m helping in their business and I’ll be referring them to you.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks Jarom,

  • Kevin

    Dear Craig, will you be selling more Black Books in immediate future ? regards Kevin Doyle

    • Craig Ballantyne

      The same one will be available again, but we arent making new ones. Hope that helps.

  • caraboska

    I think a four-hour work week is a godsend for people whose way of adding value to the world either does not bring in an income, or who do not wish to be dependent on that activity for their livelihood. But you are quite right: if a person is doing it just to play video games all day, it will come back to bite.

  • thedood7

    Great article Craig. If I hadn’t read 4HWW, I’d be shocked and awed.
    But I did, in fact, read and finish 4HWW years ago (and finished it numerous times. I re-read and finish from time to time).

    Actually, he made a point at the very end of the book that it’s not really about 4 Hour Work Week literally. In fact, he shows the real work hours he does, which is not actually 4 hours a week. As David says here, more about creating the independence to live a full productive life on your own terms. As you say Craig, it’s about adding more value into the world. Most people would really believe it’s the 4HWW literally but Tim only reveals the true meaning about the book when you’ve managed to finish it.

    Guess he should put a label: Finish the book before you actually believe it’s 4 Hour Work Week literally.

    Great article Craig.

    – Miguel Marfori

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Miguel.

  • dr dan

    Craig: I watched my father work a job for 29 years that he hated (6th grade Math and Science teacher). He retired at age 55 and never worked again. I remember talking to him before he retired that he needed to find his next career…..a career that incorporated something he truly loved. I also emphasized that he most likely would need the increased income to supplement his retirement pension.
    Fast forward 25 years….My Dad’s memory is now slipping (along with his health). He and Mom have been squeezed by inflation to the breaking point. And he wastes each day listening to the harbingers of discontent (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity). It has been disheartening. He quit on life at age 55.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Dr. Dan,
      I hope that he can find something. Never give up on him.

  • misterrkoko

    Craig: I believe it could be dangerous to believe in a “4 Hour Work Week” if you are intent on not working more than that and are completely naïve. However, I do believe that the book that has great value in and of itself. The chapter I am reading at present is about making goals regarding your Being, Doing and Having, and it makes perfect sense. People need to find something they truly love and get excited about in this life. I think what Tim is in the process of doing is helping people see what value they can bring to the world, and working on ways to bring those values to customers and employees. That is the way I see it, so far. Anyone who sees this book as a way for them not to work is naïve, and I believe reading it may help them to see what is possible. Maybe I’m wrong, but this remains to be seen in subsequent chapters …
    I’ll end with something that I’ve heard perhaps in a quote, that people who retire still work, they just don’t make money at it…

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Excellent, thank you.

  • Tomg885

    I wondered long time how to have an income (cold impersonal money) and
    meaningful existence (wise, wonderful, embracing). Really, I just want
    to work, I don’t want to read a 35 page employee manual (legalese), and
    have to sign at bottom. And for all this hard work I only make 18k net
    pay, or similar. I gotto play the market, the JOb market. The meaningful
    side I have had to do on the side, like at church: feed the homeless,
    or be an usher, or go on home visits. Also I paint, but I don’t actually
    paint, keep making excuses. A bunch of ideas I got, but keep putting
    them off. If that is meaningful life, -also I’m married. I love my wife, absolutely. But the best way for me to live is one hour at a time; time is moving so fast.

  • Obie

    Everyone is entitled to do what makes them happy. If happiness means that for you Craig that’s great but if someone else is happy and enjoying life other way, why not or who you are to say otherwise. You can write this without desqualifiying other peoples opinions, thinking.

  • Tim McMahon

    A while back I heard about a guy who took the book literally. He was a programmer for a big company like IBM or somewhere. He subcontracted all his programming work out to developers in India and China etc. and sat around playing games all day. For a while his bosses thought he was very efficient, doing the work of 5 people. Then one day the IT department thought their system was being hacked because someone was logging in from China. His little scheme was discovered and he was fired and blacklisted. Not such a bright idea afer all.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Ouch. Thanks Tim.

  • Mikki

    Craig, I am looking for Dan Sullivan’s “Unique Ability” but cannot find it. Is it a book or some other media?

  • Wayne Kille

    Hi Craig

    Thank you for writing an excellent article – I’ve been thinking about it on and off all afternoon. I think that it’s important to make these points, to put into perspective the whole idea of the ‘4hww’ and promote the importance and necessity of hard work.

    The more I think about it though, the more I think that Tim Ferriss made it clear in his book that the whole point was to save people from being slaves to a wage. I think that his book struck such a chord because so many people are dreadfully unhappy in their job yet can’t figure out any alternatives. They work long hours but feel that they get much less than they deserve in remuneration. So Tim’s book shows those people that the opposite can also be true.

    I remember Tim saying that a muse business is designed only to create an income, that it isn’t meant to be a world changing enterprise but that once you had the freedom from having to go to your job that you could then embark on something meaningful. I remember he then said, ‘and many people do’.

    I think that what you refer to as ‘VEMmers’ are simply ‘Get Rich Quicks’ with a slightly more sophisticated argument. People with this kind of attitude exist everywhere and I don’t think it’s a new breed spawned by the 4hww.

    I should admit that I ate, slept and breathed Tim Ferriss (I’m speaking metaphorically here, OK!) for probably a year. 4hww and 4hb are two of my favourite books and to be honest nothing has helped and inspired me more quite as much as Tim’s work.

    Ten years ago I read a book which set me back, or at least stopped me from going forward. My dangerous book was ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’. If only I’d had your sage advice to balance me out way back then, who knows where I’d be now 😉

    For me the penny has dropped about the need for real hard work and I’ve loved some of the recent posts on ETR about it. Jason Leister’s most recent one was brilliant.

    I should probably stop prattling on.

    Thanks again for awesome content buddy – take care.

    Wayne Kille

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Wayne!

  • brian

    it is in dans website store