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More on Parkinson & Pareto

I’m continuing reading The 4-Hour Work Week and came across this quotation which I absolutely love, so I thought I’d share it with you:
  1. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
  2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.

Reader Comments (6)

I read the 4-hour week a few months ago, soon after DIT. Although I thought that Ferriss had some valuable points, I did find much of the book somewhat morally questionable. It seems to me that he is essentially advocating exploiting others to fund his life-style. In the kind of Internet based business he runs and is suggesting that we emulate what is he actually contributing? All the actual work is done by others, and yet he takes most of the profits. Its very clever, but personally, I want to do a job where I can feel that I am at least contributing something to others.

Having said that, I did wonder after a few days reflection just how seriously one should take the whole book. Reading his recommendations for writing self-help books was instructive. If he actually followed his own advice, then perhaps the whole book is a giant joke on the reader? If so, its a pretty good one...
July 30, 2008 at 13:58 | Unregistered CommenterJaroslav Stark
Hi Jaroslav

I haven't finished reading the book yet, so it's difficult for me to comment on what you say. But I'd be interested to know how you think he's exploiting others. Do you mean he's not paying them, or that he's tricking them in some way?
July 30, 2008 at 15:18 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
That is an interesting question. The sub-contractors are being paid. However, they are working substantially more, but receiving less in return than Ferris. I don't think that this is particularly because he is tricking them, but rather that he is cleverly exploiting imbalances in the nature of our society. Whether one disapproves of this is or not, its clear that his model is not a sustainable one for everyone to follow. He is only able to work a 4 hour week because there are others willing to work 60 hour weeks to support his lifestyle.
October 14, 2008 at 16:05 | Unregistered CommenterJaroslav Stark
I don't think I've read any more of the book than I had when I made my previous comment back in July, so you have the advantage over me!

I'm still not sure of the validity of your point though. Obviously if everyone tried to live the way he does the world would collapse. But they won't - not even the ones who read his book.

And aren't the contractors glad of the work? They're not going to be saying "Hey, this fellow only works 4 hours a week. We're not going to accept any work from him!" More likely they'll be queueing up to sign the contract - they are only able to do their work because there are other people who would prefer to pay them to do it for them.
October 14, 2008 at 16:58 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I am all in favour of someone who has a good idea that generates employment for others making lots of money out of the idea. After all that is in effect how I, and probably most of the readers of your books, earn their living.

I think that what bothers me is that I cannot see what Ferriss is contributing that creates value to the company he runs. The way he describes it, the company would run just as well without him. I am not even sure that his contractors are queueing up to work for him, as by the sound of it the people he chooses would find plenty of other work if he disappeared overnight. I also suspect that its a pretty unstable set up, and it would not surprise me if in a short while that particular enterprise had folded, and he had moved on to the next one.

Anyway, to move the discussion on, I was wondering it anyone here had read any of the 80/20 books by Richard Koch? I read them right after the 4 Hour Week and found them much more carefully thought through and interesting.
October 30, 2008 at 16:16 | Unregistered CommenterJaroslav Stark
Ok, what about retired people who are doing no work at all and still expecting people to work for them for payment? Or people on benefit payments? Or someone who has inherited money? Should everyone refuse to accept their money because they haven't created value?

Come to that what about bureaucrats, tax inspectors, politicians? Some might say they are actually destroying value!

And yes, I think the 80/20 ideas are very useful, and Richard Koch's books well worth reading.
November 6, 2008 at 15:07 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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