How Tim Ferris Found Product-Market Fit for “The 4-Hour Workweek” | Starting Greatness with Mike Maples

Key Takeaways

  • By creating new words and terms to frame ideas you change language and thus how people think
    • This memetic spread that all then links back to you will exponentially grow your reach and influence
  • “I’ve done this for every book launch and I often advise startups to do this: look for uncrowded, undervalued channels” – Tim Ferris
  • “If you want to conquer the world, don’t try to do it all at once” – Tim Ferris
    • When first entering a market you should specify your target audience as much as possible in order to secure that initial foothold to springboard from 
  • Organic growth by word-of-mouth is the great filter for most startups and products
  • Pay attention to the warning signs that people show when times are good as they will rear themselves as far larger problems when times aren’t so good
    • The struggle doesn’t always strengthen someone’s character, but it does always reveal their character

Books Mentioned

Intro

  • Tim Ferris (@tferris) is an author, podcast host, entrepreneur, and investor
  • Host: Mike Maples (@m2jr)

Origins of The 4-Hour Workweek

  • Years ago, Tim was hired to give bi-annual lectures at Princeton on entrepreneurship 
    • He would write down the ideas from these lectures in order to fall asleep and these notes eventually turned into The 4-Hour Workweek
    • There was never a plan for a book initially, it happened as a result of refining these ideas until they became suitable for a book
  • The very first title for the book was “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit” and then “Lifestyle Hustling”
    • “The 4-Hour Workweek” was settled on after testing ~20 titles on Google AdWords for clickthrough rate 
  • In order to not sound like a pompous Ivy League grad, Tim specifically wrote the book as if he was giving advice to two of his own friends 

Category Creation

  • By creating new words and terms to frame ideas you change language and thus how people think
    • This memetic spread that all then links back to you will exponentially grow your reach and influence
  • “I more thoughtful about positioning and category creation more than category domination” – Tim Ferris

Marketing

  • Product-market fit for books is necessary before you even start writing
    • Tim discovered the product-market fit for his book while lecturing and getting direct feedback from his students 
  • “I’ve done this for every book launch and I often advise startups to do this: look for uncrowded, undervalued channels” – Tim Ferris
    • “The best way to compete, if you can, is to avoid competition altogether” 
  • “For The 4-Hour Workweek it became clear that television was waning in impact, radio was a stable player, and these things called blogs were incredibly powerful but the publishers didn’t seem to be paying much attention to them” – Tim Ferris
    • Tim spent almost all of his launch budget ($10K) on flying out to events with influential bloggers and buying them drinks 
  • “If you want to conquer the world, don’t try to do it all at once” – Tim Ferris
    • When first entering a market you should specify your target audience as much as possible in order to secure that initial foothold to springboard from 
  • Marketing a bad product is the same as putting lipstick on a pig
    • You might be able to bring traffic to yourself with good marketing, but if you don’t provide good value then people will abandon you as fast as they found you
    • As they say, the best products sell themselves
  • Organic growth by word-of-mouth is the great filter for most startups and products

Startup Advising

  • The most important trait of a startup advisor is whether or not they genuinely love the company because only this love will get people through the seemingly insurmountable challenges that will inevitably pop up
  • Startup advisors need to both get in the weeds of the company technicals and also be able to relate to and understand the founding members 
    • “Most startup relationships last longer than the majority of marriages in the US so make sure you can not just tolerate but enjoy spending time with these people” – Tim Ferris
  • The startups that Tim has advised who have done the best were all extremely surgical in their usage of Tim
    • Every question or request asked of Tim was precise and targeted with concrete objectives
  • If you don’t know what hyperspecific questions to ask about your exact needs, then consulting outside help will only be a waste of money

Managing People

  • Pay attention to the warning signs that people show when times are good as they will rear themselves as far larger problems when times aren’t so good
    • Struggle doesn’t always strengthen someone’s character, but it does always reveal their character
    • If you’re considering an investor don’t solely look at their successes, but also how they have acted when companies have failed
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Notes By TD

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