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Why Tim Ferriss chose the title “The Four Hour Workweek”

Tim Ferriss wrote “The 4-Hour Work Week.” With more than 3 million copies sold, the book became a big hit.

In the book, Ferriss gives a nice controversial take on work that makes you think. He dismisses the “sham productivity” of sitting in the office for 8 hours a day and emphasizes that you shouldn’t put off fun things until retirement. 

But it’s not about the content of the book. It’s about the title. Because “The 4-Hour Work Week” is a brilliant title. It is short, clear and holds a powerful promise about working less and having more freedom.

The philosophy of The 4-Hour Work Week has become very well known. Less well known is that the title of the book was initially quite different. Really Very Different.

In fact, Tim Ferriss’ initial plan was to call the book “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit…”

His friends and colleagues thought it was a terrible title. But Ferris held his ground: he wanted a striking & polarizing title.

Until a major distribution deal with Wal-Mart presented itself. Wal-Mart’s buyers were enamored with the book’s content, but absolutely NOT the title.

That forced Ferris to choose a new title. Under time pressure, he came up with 12 new titles. But everyone around him had a different opinion about the title he should choose.

Instead of continuing endless discussions, he decided to change tack.

He chose three titles that he himself felt best about:

  • Broadband and white sand
  • Millionaire chameleon
  • The 4-hour workweek

He then set up a simple Google Adwords campaign for each title. When people searched for words related to the content of the book, they were shown one of the above titles.

Within a few days, with a budget of a few hundred dollars, he had determined that “The 4-Hour Work Week” was by far the most popular title.

Other authors followed his lead. John Graham:

“It seems to me that Google AdWords is great for such experiments. It’s cheap, it’s simple to target your experiment based on keywords so that you can choose the type of people exposed to the experiment and you can try out variations of an idea easily. Obviously book titles are just one possibility. What other things could be tested using Google AdWords?”

Moral of the story:

Instead of working out your entire product first, you can simply test it first.

Tim Ferriss is coming to Amsterdam!

We’ve been after Ferriss since 2006. And now we have him! This is the only chance to hear Tim Ferriss speak. On September 29 he will join us on stage at Amsterdam Business Forum. 

Ferriss will share his lessons on leadership:

      How do you increase your impact as a leader?

      How do you help people grow and excel?

      How do you make the best decisions?

Find more info here: 

More info!

Table of Contents

Melati Wijsen is a young changemaker from Bali. In terms of personality, she is best characterized as a blend of Greta Thunberg, Bojan Slat and Barack Obama. At the age of only 12 (!) Melati and her sister managed to get single use plastic bags banned in Bali. Melati is the founder and figurehead of Youthtopia, a network of young changemakers around the world. A film about her and this movement launched in 2022: Bigger than Us. Melati is one of those speakers you may not know upfront, but will never forget after September 29.

Glenn de Randamie, better known as Typhoon, will wrap up this seminar. He will take us on a journey to connection, inclusion and fresh perspectives. How can we make even more impact by working together in a better way? How do we ensure that all voices are heard and blend into better decisions? How do we bridge gaps and break barriers? Glenn will share unexpected and valuable lessons about personal leadership, vitality, inclusion and diversity, growing, slowing down, trusting and connecting.

Tim Ferriss is one of the world’s leading experts on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal innovation. He is the author the iconic global bestseller: The 4-Hour-Workweek. He is an early investor in companies such as Uber, Shopify, Duolingo and Alibaba. Tim is on Fast Company’s list of “Most Innovative Business People.” His podcast The Tim Ferriss Show is the world’s most listened-to podcast for entrepreneurs and leaders with over 900 million (!!!) downloads.

“Tim Ferriss is the Oprah of Audio”
(The Observer)

Maryna Saprykina  won the 2023 Speaker contest with her speech: “Sustainability in the Times of War”. 

She is sustainability consultant from Ukraine who has seen the resilience of Ukrainian businesses firsthand.  

Her keynote addressed the role of sustainability in business continuity during times of war.

Britt Breure is Director of HR and CSR at AFAS Software, a unique family company with a strong corporate culture and impressive results. 

AFAS has 600 employees, but only 1 HR employee. That’s Britt. She is also committed to social responsibility and sustainability within AFAS and beyond.

Alix Jacobson is Former Vice President HR EMEA by Netflix. She is a commercially driven international HR executive with an extensive track record of building and sustaining healthy, efficient and high-performing teams.

Alix staunchly believes in company culture as a business driver – A clear and common set of values and behaviors can drive employee performance and team effectiveness, and ultimately business performance.

Douglas Lamont is CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely, joining in October 2022 from innocent drinks where he was CEO for nine years. 

As innocent’s CEO, Douglas put his advocacy for building businesses that balance people, profit and planet into action.

Lilian Geijsen is Managing Director of Ben & Jerry’s Europe, she embodies the company’s mission of delivering high-quality, socially responsible products while making a positive impact on the world.

She is responsible for driving growth while prioritizing social impact across all three parts of the business, including product, economic, and social.

Erin Meyer is a science rockstar in the field of (company) culture. She is professor at INSEAD Business School and she is listed in Thinkers50 the list of best leadership thinkers in the world. Erin’s book The Culture Map became a worldwide bestseller. Her book No Rules Rules, co-authored with Netflix founder Reid Hastings, deconstructs the unique culture that enabled Netflix to grow and become one of the most successful companies on earth. “The most important document to come out of Silicon Valley” (Sheryll Sandberg on the Netflix Culture Manifesto)

Rutger Bregman  is one of Europe’s most prominent young thinkers. The 35-year-old historian and author has been nominated twice for the prestigious European Press Prize for his work at De Correspondent. His articles have been featured in The Washington Post and on the BBC. His book, Human Kind (De Meeste Mensen Deugen) is a worldwide bestseller, with over 1.5 million copies sold and translations in 40 languages.

“Rutger Bregman is the Dutch Wunderkind of new ideas”
(The Guardian)