Snappy Boring Quotes from Timothy Ferriss

By Michelle Malay Carter on December 4, 2007 

Teh 4 Hour Work WeekI’ve talked about the fact that 20% of workers are underutilized and bored.? Further, we often fiind that many higher level jobs within organizations are not “fully loaded”. ?Meaning although an employee might be matched to his job on paper, much of the employee’s time is spent doing tasks that are substantially lower in complexity than that called for by the organizational level of the role.? Bored.? Boring.? Boredom.

I enjoyed this quote on boredom taken?from a Fast Company interview?with Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join The New Rich.

“Most corporate workers are bored and dangerously comfortable.? They are in that gray area between love and hate that leaves most with constant low-grade anxiety and an acute sense of wasted potential.? This is more common and more damaging than hate, because hate spurs action.? Tolerable mediocrity leads you to wake up one day and ask “what happened to the last 20 years?”?… Boredom should scare people as much as hate.”

I can’t recommend the book because?I haven’t read it, but I do?recommend reading the interview?as it was dotted with edgy quotes to include:?

“I never break rules — I analyze them and question the outdated assumptions and habits based on them.”
“I’m trying to teach people how to be the chess player instead of the chess piece.”
“This book challenges a lot of behaviors people hold dear, even though they are counterproductive.”

Duly intrigued, I went to the library to?get the book, and the librarian said they would put me on the waiting list.? As I turned to leave, it occurred to me to ask what number on the list I was.? “Number 40,” she said.??(Just a small bit of pertinent information the librarian would not have shared with me had I not asked!)? So, I can either buy the book or wait about two years to borrow it from the library.

On a final note, Ferriss says 13 publishers turned his book down before it made its way to the bestsellers list.? This is encouraging as I have had many more executives than that turn down the idea of adopting a total-systems approach to managerial leadership, talent management, and organizational design.? I look forward to the day when I have a two-year waiting list.

Have you read the book?? Is it worth buying?

Filed Under Employee Engagement, Managerial Leadership, Personal Observation, Talent Management


7 Responses to “Snappy Boring Quotes from Timothy Ferriss”

  1. Paul Holmstrom on December 4th, 2007 4:07 pm

    I first heard a podcast with Tim Ferris talking about the idea. I was fascinated and intrigued by the thought of stopping to think about how to cram in as much work as possible in a week and instead think about how little does one really need to do to contribute value – out with Getting Things Done.

    Bought the book and thought the podcast gave me better return on time investment. Tim Ferris have entirely different opinions about what to do with the extra 36 hours of free time and I did not buy the book to read about that.

    The important take home is about how he discovered how little of his workweek that actually created value. The rest of the book is filler.

    The podcast I listened to was from a presentation he made at SXSW

  2. Michelle Malay Carter on December 4th, 2007 4:21 pm

    Good information. Thanks Paul.


  3. Glenn Mehltretter on December 5th, 2007 9:30 am


    Want to thank you for the link to Tim Ferris’s pod cast. I’m presently engaged in being coached and my task for the week is to track my time usage. I believe that Tim’s thoughts will greatly influence my time usage innovation :)


  4. Robyn on December 7th, 2007 10:04 am

    I like the quotes you share, Michelle, because they help us see how to get beyond boredom.

    To say something simply, catchy captures the essence of a whole book or talk. Besides it’s something you can ponder a little or even keep in your head easily, such as, “Being a chess player instead of a chess piece.

  5. Michelle Malay Carter on December 7th, 2007 3:12 pm


    Thanks for the comment. You know it’s a good quote when you think, I wish I had said that! That’s how I felt about many of Ferriss’ quotes.



  6. Christopher Johnston on February 21st, 2008 11:14 am

    I’ve read the book once all the way through and I am in the process of re-reading it and implementing the steps to automate my business. I don’t know that my business model will allow 4 hour work weeks but 8-12hrs is possible. You should go to and pickup a copy, it is worth every penny.

  7. Michelle Malay Carter on February 21st, 2008 4:22 pm


    Thanks for stopping by and offering your take on the book.

    I guess if you are too busy to read the book, that it might be a sign that you might need the book!