If you searched for diet books right now on amazon, how many results do you think you’d get? Diet books are pretty popular, remember. Definitely more than a couple hundred, right? I would have guessed a couple thousand. I would have been very wrong.
Right now, there are 62,273 results when I search for diet books. Now, there has been some interesting new research in health and nutrition, but dieting just isn’t that complicated. In fact, we don’t even need to be told how to lose weight. We know it intrinsically: eat less, move more. That’s it. So how the hell did we get tens of thousands of different diet books?
The answer revolves around Tim Ferriss. Tim Ferriss has now authored two bestselling books. His first, the Four Hour Workweek promises a rich life while only working four hours a week (kinda). His second, Four Hour Body, promises “rapid fat-loss, incredible sex, and becoming superhuman”. These have become immensely popular books, some of the most popular and talked about books of the last decade. Both hitting the #1 spots on amazon and the NY Times bestseller list. Now, this isn’t a rag on Tim (both books are actually very interesting). He’s widely admitted that he chose the “four hour” title because it got the best responses in the testing he did before the book launched.
Of course it did.
That’s exactly what everyone is looking for. A workweek that’s over before lunch on Monday? Sign me up! I can be superhuman in 30 minutes a day? Deal.
Everyone wants a shortcut.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. There are all sorts of ways to optimize life: there are tricks to learn and read faster; there are systems you can implement that make you more organized, productive, and effective; there are foods you can eat that are filling and tasty but low in calories and exercises that are so intense they don’t require that much time. But, these are tweaks. At the most basic level, to get good enough at something that it’s going to change your life, or to get good enough so that people will pay you to do it, you’re going to have to put in the time. That’s just the way it is.
Ironically, it took Tim months, if not years, of 80 hour workweeks to build his audience, land a book deal, maintain his audience, write the book, maintain his audience, promote the book, maintain his audience, etc., on top of all the other stuff he had going on. He doesn’t lie about his hectic schedule in his books. His explanation is that he would be doing this stuff anyways. He loves almost all of it; only around 4 hours of each week sucks and feels like “work”. Therefore, he only “works” four hours a week.
The king of the shortcut couldn’t become king by taking a shortcut. That should be all you need to know.