In this episode, Stephen and Kevin talk about how feasible the 4-hour workweek is them.
Stephen’s Courses at Pluralsight
Stephens Books on Amazon
Tim Ferriss Blog – Author of 4-hour workweek
4 Hour Work Week on Amazon.co.uk
4 Hour Work Week on Amazon.com
Steves Recommendation: Noizio nature sounds app for Mac. Noisli for IOs, but also has web version (https://www.noisli.com).
Coffee shop ambiance with Coffitivity
Noizio on Mac
Noizio on Windows
Noisily for Web, IOS and Android
If you want to read the transcript, click onto the full post.
Stephen Haunts: You know the best thing about working for yourself? Is if you start talking to yourself, you can just call it a staff meeting.
Kevin Taylor: Oh, that’s terrible.
Stephen Haunts: I aim to please.
Stephen Haunts: Hello and welcome to this next episode of the side hustle success podcast. I’m your host Steven Haunts and I’m joined by my co-host …
Kevin Taylor: Kevin Taylor.
Stephen Haunts: This is a show for anyone who has a product or business idea and wants to go full time on it eventually, or maybe you already have. This show is about product design, entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, free agents, digital nomads and anything in between. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the book “The four hour work week” by Tim Ferriss and discuss how feasible it really is. So, Kevin, how are you doing?
Kevin Taylor: Good thanks, yeah. I’ve been busy obviously with the launch of the new website, so I’ve been answering a lot of telephone calls, support emails. Also I’ve been … ’cause I’ve kind of been busy with the launch of this product and kind of behind with my structural engineering consultancy work, so I’ve been doing a bit more of that, trying to get a few more pennies in. Also, we’ve got James who’s our marketing intern, so I’ve been working with him we’re sort of looking at Facebook ads and also doing some PR for the new website, so we’ve been busy with that. What have you been up to Steve, this week?
Stephen Haunts: So, a bit more of the same really, so I’m still working on my course with Pluralsight, progress is going really well. And, I’m still working on the book for Apress. So, I’m trying to get that book, the first draft completed by end of September is what I’m aiming for. I think I’m on track for doing it. So that’s pretty good, kind of the big thing I’m really excited about is I’ve now finally got air con in the office.
Kevin Taylor: Wow, you know it’s going to get cold now, you’re not gonna need it. The two weeks a year that it’s hot enough in the UK to have air con.
Stephen Haunts: I did joke to someone the other week that … I said “I’m gonna get this air con unit in my office and as soon as it turns up the weather is gonna turn bad.” And, can you believe it, on the Monday when the thing turned up it started raining.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, that’s gonna happen isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: But I mean, in the UK recently it’s been unseasonably hot. So, we don’t deal with extreme weather in the UK very well.
Kevin Taylor: It’s been really hot this summer. I think it’s gradually cooling down but it’s still fairly warm.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, it’s been about 30 … Well, between 30 and 35 degrees, which is really hot for this country. And, a lot of my friends who live in sunnier climates like in Australia kind of jokes that we can’t handle it. But, I keep pointing out to them, in the UK, houses aren’t built with air con generally, unless you kind of self-built the house yourself where you fit it.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, you don’t generally need them ’cause it’s only a bit hot for a few days each year where it’s hot enough to justify air conditioning.
Stephen Haunts: Our house has been so warm and trying to get the kids to sleep when it’s so hot as well its just been …
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it’s been a bit hot.
Stephen Haunts: Not much sleep going on in our household.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, my wife’s pregnant as well so she has really been struggling with this heat.
Stephen Haunts: Oh, that must be really hard.
Kevin Taylor: It’s been hard.
Stephen Haunts: Like typical Brits, we love to complain about the weather, I’m sure it won’t be the first time that we do that.
Kevin Taylor: Sure.
Stephen Haunts: Great, okay, so let’s move on to audience questions. A friend of mine Pete asked quite an interesting question which I thought I’d mention here. So, he goes “Steve, most younger adults or millennials these days like the idea of being a digital nomad and traveling, but as you are older and have kids and also you seem to work away a lot, how do you balance this with your home life?” I thought this was an interesting question because whenever you hear about digital nomads, it always tends to be much younger people. Maybe in their 20s or set up like a Shopify internet business.
Kevin Taylor: I think if I was younger and didn’t have any ties, I think I’d be more inclined to travel more, be it a proper digital rather than being a local digital nomad, a proper international digital nomad.
Stephen Haunts: This is what you see on like Instagram. You get people on Instagram who are posting about the fact that they’re in Vietnam this week, working in some restaurant.
Kevin Taylor: On a beach.
Stephen Haunts: You get the photo of the inspirational quote that they post.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I know, yeah, in a hammock on a beach.
Stephen Haunts: Which is cool, I mean it is cool and Pete’s right, I do do a lot of international travel for conferences and he asks “How do I balance this?” And, “With difficulty” is the answer. A lot of the conferences I talk at and one of the aims of me being there is to promote the courses I do with Pluralsight, so it is work that I’m going out there for.
Kevin Taylor: I think yours is … You’re not living somewhere for three months though are you, it’s just a different [crosstalk 00:04:50]
Stephen Haunts: No, so generally, I’ll be away for a week, I think the longest I was away for is eight days.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, so it’s kind of a little bit different isn’t it I suppose, to being full-time location dependent in another country for any length of time is probably different but I think it’s harder with children isn’t it I think with … People do do it, you do hear stories of families that are nomads and I think it’s harder to expect your kids to be uprooted every three months and I think it might be quite lonely for children. I was listening to a podcast today about somebody that had travelled a lot as a child and I think they said it was very hard because it was hard to make friends and move on as a child. So, I think it’s hard, isn’t it? But then you’re getting those life experiences as well, so it’s a balance isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, in terms of balancing, me and my wife have to work very closely on this, so there’s times where I’m away and there’s times where my wife has to go away for work as well. She works for sort of a large IT outsourcing company so she’ll routinely have to go away for two, three or four days at a time. So, we just kind of have to balance it and make sure we’re not away at the same time.
Kevin Taylor: Oh yeah, of course, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, if I’m away, then my wife does the morning and the evening routine of collecting the kids from school et cetera. When she’s away I do that as well. I’ll work a shorter day, I’ll take the kids to school or I’ll go pick them up. So, we’ve only had one occasion where we’ve had a conflict.
Kevin Taylor: [crosstalk 00:06:09].
Stephen Haunts: As in where I had to be away for one night and my wife had to be away for her company in Wales. And, we actually solved that one ’cause her mom wanted to come down. Her lives about 200 miles away, in Newcastle.
Kevin Taylor: Okay.
Stephen Haunts: But, her mom came down and wanted to spend some time with the kids anyway, so that one actually worked itself out quite well.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, you looked out there.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, we did, but balancing it, we just had to keep communicating, we have a calendar in the kitchen where we put down the dates where we’re away and so far it’s worked out.
Kevin Taylor: I think my wife … she’s not adventurous in terms of traveling so … We go on holiday and we go to Italy and et cetera but we don’t really go and move to … We’re not gonna move to Asia for six months or something, I don’t think that’s likely to happen and I’m fine with that. I think it’s more being location independent than being a digital nomad, which is important to me personally, like freedom. We didn’t necessarily have to involve international travel, it just depends on what you want to do doesn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, I’ve got to a point now when I’ve had to turn down quite a lot of speaking engagements this year. Mainly ’cause I don’t want to be away for too long. So, for example, in November I’m at a conference called, AeroDef in Sweden.
Kevin Taylor: Okay.
Stephen Haunts: And another conference approached me in Moscow, which … it starts literally the day after the one in Sweden finishes. So if I was to do that I would be spending a week in Sweden then I’d probably have to probably get to Copenhagen and then get a flight to Moscow. And be away there for a week, which is too much, it’s a lot of traveling, which I don’t particularly want to do and it’s not fair on my wife, it’s not fair on the kids. So, there’s balancing in that regard as well. I mean, I have to make sure I don’t do too many events. Probably the busiest time for me is around April, May, June time is when a lot of the events are that I do.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, I was away quite a bit this time but I mean one thing me and my wife have always said is we would never really uproot the kids. We live where we live, the kids are settled in schools.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, this is the hard thing isn’t it? I think with … and then there’s just family help look after our little boy and stuff and there’s things in there that is good to be in any particular location, you have a family support network et cetera. I think that would be harder to achieve if we were traveling.
Stephen Haunts: So yeah, that’s how we balance it, so if you’re older, you’re married, you have a partner, you have children. You balance it by constantly communicating with each other, so if I was to turn around to my wife Amanda and say “Right, next week I’m going to be away the whole week” and only give her a couple of week’s notice that wouldn’t be fair. So, we always try and do things in advance.
Kevin Taylor: It’ll work out to that kind of routine.
Stephen Haunts: So, the second question we’ve got, which we actually touched on a little bit in the last episode, it’s from Dominic on Twitter and he asks “Do you both find it hard working by yourselves day in and day out, does it ever get lonely?”
Kevin Taylor: Yes, it does, I think people don’t talk about this, do they? I think it definitely does get lonely, if you … I think being an entrepreneur is a very lonely place, sometimes, a lot of the time you are on your own and you haven’t got support from other colleagues, especially starting out. So, you know it’s a battle I think and also trying to have a routine and keep yourself motivated. I don’t have that problem ’cause I’m kind of passionate about what I do. So I think that’s part of it, isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Yeah.
Kevin Taylor: If you’re into what you’re doing it’s less of a struggle, sort of motivate yourself to keep working every day. Bear in mind that you set your own work, don’t you? If you’ve got your own business. I think it’s a trick on the loneliness [inaudible 00:09:38] I get around that by working … I’ve got a business partner now. I work in co-working spaces. There’s things you can do get out and meet friends, always try and keep touch with friends and family and things like that. It’s hard, how would you cope with this issue?
Stephen Haunts: We touched on this last week when we were talking about introverts and extroverts. I consider myself to be quite introverted, so being by myself for long periods of time doesn’t really bother me. I quite like it. But I mean, when I was working from home I was kind of missing that routine of going out to work. Even though I didn’t have to go out anywhere I was kind of missing that general routine, which is why I went to a co-working space where I met you.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: And why I sort of now work in a private office in Cromford in Derbyshire. And there’s lots of people around here that I’ll talk to day in day out. I run-
Kevin Taylor: I think I did read somewhere about even introverts do benefit from being around other people sometimes.
Stephen Haunts: Absolutely, just for balancing ideas around each other. But I mean, I’ve made so many really cool friends all around the world just from speaking at conferences. I’ve got loads of friends in Australia, the US, Belgium, Amsterdam-
Kevin Taylor: Wow, international friends.
Stephen Haunts: Norway, Poland. Literally, so whenever I go to conferences I’ll probably do between 7 and 11 events a year. We joke it’s a bit like a traveling circus, every event I go to I always bump into someone that I know. Even from the conference circuit or through the work I do at pluralsight.
Kevin Taylor: Wow, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, I don’t really get lonely as such because probably the most isolated part of the year for me at the minute is now, in the summer.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: ‘Cause I purposefully don’t do many speaking engagements during the summer, or I don’t do any international travel in the summer ’cause the kids are off on the school holidays, so I deliberately keep that sort of time free. But yeah, I don’t really find it that lonely but I can quite see how some people would, it depends on your personality. If you’re someone who gets your energy from being around people and you suddenly go from working with coworkers to being by yourself doing a business, I can see that that would be a problem.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it’s tricky.
Stephen Haunts: But, one of the things I do as well is … I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, is I co-run a software development user group in Derby. So, once a month we have … a group of people will meet up, we hire in … well, not hire but we invite a speaker to come in and do a talk on something and that’s quite sociable you know, there’s beer and pizza generally when we’re doing it.
Kevin Taylor: I mean, there’s a few things I do, I do a mastermind group where we meet monthly with two other entrepreneurs. So, we’ll go for an evening meal and that’s quite nice to discuss about business, we have it once a month. And also, I used to go to a thing called [inaudible 00:12:11] Tuesday but I don’t do it anymore, it’s like for internet entrepreneurs, meet up once a month and they used to have somebody talk but they don’t do that. They have the tech Nottingham event once a month which I like going to instead of-
Stephen Haunts: Oh yeah, I know the organizers for that, yeah.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I’ve been to that a few times. I try and go to that as well if I can. But, it’s hard though, isn’t it, I think that’s something you do struggle with and people don’t mention this is how lonely it is running your own business or how lonely it can be.
Stephen Haunts: So, starting up a podcast can be a good antidote as well.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, for sure, yeah it’s another thing that you can do.
Stephen Haunts: So I could just phone you up “Kevin, I’m feeling a bit lonely, let’s record an episode.”
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, we’ll do that thing, it’s a good idea I’m gonna have a bat phone and I’ll ring you if I’m feeling lonely.
Stephen Haunts: It’s kind of like a life cycle to designing a product isn’t it? So, we need to do that initial brainstorming and building of a product as the side hustle whether you’ve quit work or if you’re still working for someone else. That’s kind of an exciting time. But it’s not always going to be like that, once you’ve launched a product, it becomes real at that point. You’re gonna have people hopefully buying your product, you’re gonna have people that want support, and some of that stuff is hard.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it’s tricky, isn’t it, I think it can … And also, you’re on your own, you don’t have that support from a team [inaudible 00:13:25] work with other people in larger companies and all of a sudden you’re on your own, you have to make all of the decisions, you don’t always know what to do. It’s touch isn’t it, I think. I think it is always a struggle.
Stephen Haunts: So yeah, it’s definitely something you need to think about before you do it.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, for sure, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: You need to have a good long hard look at your own personality type and then try and counteract any particular problems.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, and I think perhaps look at support network, say, whether that would be mastermind groups, going to meetup groups, friends, family, other people that are doing what you’re doing, if you can meet up with somebody else who runs a business that’s similar to yours or just different, to have a different perspective or have a chat, I think that’s always really useful as well.
Stephen Haunts: So, you’ve mentioned your idea for mastermind group before, is it basically like an advice group?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it is, yeah, so what we do is, there’s two other entrepreneurs that own software businesses so we sort of describe what we did that month, we have like a round table, what we did and then we discuss what we’re going to do. We hold each other accountable, so we set goals for the month and then if you haven’t achieved your goal, it’s like why didn’t you do what you were supposed to do? It’s good, it makes you. And also, if somebody else has another perspective on your business because you’re already trapped in your business somebody else might see things that you don’t see because you’re so heads down into the weeds. You don’t see what’s happening over the bigger picture, so sometimes that’s really, really useful to have that kind of perspective on your business.
Stephen Haunts: That’s a really good idea actually, yeah, ’cause if you’re working by yourself you haven’t really got anyone to hold you accountable for the work that you’re doing.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, that’s why it’s good to get that outside perspective. The other thing I do is I’ve got a mentor as well in Manchester called Andy Nicol, he owns a big agency called Sputnik digital and I meet up with him occasionally as well, I find that really useful, you know, in terms of he’s helped me with culture of the business, how we grow the business, the values and sort of looking at employing people. So, when I was going to employ [inaudible 00:15:19] you’re getting lots of suggestions with that as well. It’s really, really helpful as well. So, if you try and reach out to experienced business people and see if you can get them to mentor you as well, that’s really good.
Stephen Haunts: So, is he someone that you knew previously, or did you meet him via another group?
Kevin Taylor: No, it was via a group, it was I think like a Manchester group, can’t remember what it’s called now I’ll have to put it in the show notes but they did a thing where you can sort of meet a mentor and find a mentor. So they helped me find a mentor, so that was good. I recommend that as well.
Stephen Haunts: Oh brilliant, well that certainly sounds like a good way of getting accountability and actually making sure you still interact with the general population.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, no sure, don’t just sit on your own forever.
Stephen Haunts: Okay, so in today’s topic we’re going to talk about the book “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. Now we mentioned this briefly in the last episode and I know it is your pick of the week.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, for last time, very nice episode.
Stephen Haunts: Do you just want to summarize what the book is about for anyone that’s not read it?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I can do, so don’t get too caught up with the title, I think that that’s just more marketing really. I think he went onto AdWords and tried different titles for the book and the four hour work week performed the best because it’s catchy and it sells. But, I think it’s more than that, I think what he’s saying is basically … I mean, the book is 10 years old so it was capturing what was happening at the time with internet businesses. And, with an internet business you can be so much more efficient than a traditional business because you can automate so many of your processes and obviously you can employ people remotely anywhere in the world so it was kind of outlining the processes that were already happening at the time but also it’s about being … With an internet business you can be location independent, you can be a digital nomad, you can automate a lot of your business processes. So, your marketing, if you’re selling physical products you can have all the software in place that handles all of that.
Kevin Taylor: It’s just so much easier now to do that than it would have been years ago. It sort of outlines this sort of thing that was happening, and I sort of read it and I was kind of doing bits of that anyway but it kind of really gave it focus and it made me think “Does the business work for me or do it work for the business?” If the business isn’t really giving me the life that I want, it’s not great. I think the four hour work week is more about lifestyle design, having the business give you the lifestyle you want rather than just say “I’m gonna grow this business, it’s gonna take over my life and suck the life right out of me.” It’s more about, “Does this business give me the life I want?”
Stephen Haunts: When I read it, one of the things I found quite interesting was, it was talking about the concepts of active or passive income. And the type of income that you generate into your business is very dependent on whether some of this stuff is relevant to you but whether you can do the … I’m doing an air quote which no one can see, the four hour work week, and to summarize the differences, an active income is where you’re trading time for money, so people most commonly call that a job. You work eight hours a day and you get paid X amount of money for doing that.
Kevin Taylor: It might be a bit like freelancing, so you get paid say if you’re a designer, you get paid by the hour for each hour of work that you do, or if you’re a structural engineer you get paid for the work that you do.
Stephen Haunts: So, it’s a transaction, so if you’re a contractor or a consultant you’ll be on a day rate. You’re giving up your time, you get paid that money. If you stop giving your time, the money stops.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I think it’s trying to solve … If you’re selling a product you can sell, say for example you have a widget that you sell. You can sell like a million widgets, it doesn’t take any more time than selling five widgets. You’ve kind of divorced time for money, so it’s about separating the effort that you put in from the output that you’re getting. So, I think that’s important. Generally that tends to be more products than services, although you can productize services to some extent.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, whereas on the flip side to that you have what is called passive income. Just be kind of careful how you explain passive income ’cause I’ve seen some people try and explain it before and then they get criticized or talking about it being some kind of get rich quick scheme.
Kevin Taylor: I think you can have passive income, and I think it can be achieved but I think you kind of have to have a successful business before you start and then you can make it passive but then I don’t think it’s forever, I think it’s only in the short term, I think you could perhaps create a really successful business and leave it on autopilot for a year. And, I think you’d have to come back at some point, you get competitors, things will change, the world, the markets would change, the world would change and you’d have to come in and perhaps change things and mix things up a bit. But I think you can be more efficient when a new technology is out. You can do less with more.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, to summarize what passive income is. So, you’ll do … I’ll take my course as an example ’cause this is a perfect example of it. So, when I build a course for Pluralsight, I spend a considerable amount of effort building the course. That could be two, three, four months. It’s a lot of work.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, so it’s not really passive then.
Stephen Haunts: No, it’s not passive at that point, you’re expending a lot of time. You’re not getting any return from that time, although we do get paid a small fee afterwards but that’s besides the point. So, the way passive income works, so they all then go and release that course onto their platform, and then people start watching it and then you get paid by sort of how many minutes are watched. I’m sitting here right now and I know there’s people watching my courses and it’s earning money. So, that’s passive income, it’s kind of a recurring income.
Kevin Taylor: I tell you what’s always the nice … I don’t know if you feel this as well is if … obviously because I’ve got software products, is that people buy my software products whilst I’m asleep, I think I’ve kind of made it. So, you can sleep and wake up rich, and that’s a really, really nice feeling. One thing I would give advice to people is that just trying to make one dollar selling something on the internet. Just one dollar, or one pound or whatever currency, or euro or whatever currency you’re in. And just trying to get that first sale because then you can iterate how bomb that is, just a matter of taking that process and just growing from it. I think that’s the hardest thing sometimes, is just making that first sale online. Whether you’re selling an ebook or whatever it is that you’re selling. Or products, physical products or whatever it is that you’re selling. I think once you’ve done that it gets easier doesn’t it? I think sometimes you procrastinate and never do anything, and sometimes done is better than perfect, you know?
Stephen Haunts: When we said we was gonna discuss this book as a topic, I had a bit of a think about my business and could I technically go traveling full time and just work four hours a week maintaining what I do? So, in the short term I could because the course is recurring income, I get paid every quarter. There is fluctuations in what you get in but it’s kind of predictable.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: But, on the flip side of that, do I want to do that? My brain isn’t really wired to do that, I constantly have to be creating things.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I’m the same I did think about this and I’ve put it in the show notes, in my notes that we read, about this is that it’s almost … I think because It’s [inaudible 00:22:10] you could automate a lot of our processes and I could do a lot less if I do consultancy work, I don’t really have to do, I just do it for a bit of extra cash. And there are certain things that I do that I don’t have to do. I could get a VA to do a lot of the tasks and I think [inaudible 00:22:24] deeper, I think sort of you become like a retired person which, sometimes it’s hard if you’ve done something forever and then you just stop doing it, kind of lose your purpose a little bit. And, I think you could almost feel like lost to the world, where sometimes you need to have … You feel that you’re doing something valuable or you’re creating new things or doing something.
Kevin Taylor: If you’re working on new products that’s exciting. If you’re doing the four hours you probably can’t do that, you can’t do new things can you? So, I’m gonna come up with new products, new software product because that’s gonna take more than four hours obviously. And I think there’s probably a few people out there that kind of … I think there’s somebody, Clay, Clay from Leadpages did [inaudible 00:23:02] lost boys of lifestyle design was his release. And it was kind of people that lived the four hour work week and kind of like a bit jaded by it. It’s almost like being retired, I don’t think it’s always … if you actually live it, would it actually be that great? I think you’d have to try it.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, when I did a bit of research around this I was kind of like looking at what some of the businesses that are out there that people try to associate with, the four hour work week, or the kind of lifestyle that sort of generates. There’s a lot of people who do … and they’re also not very good businesses, is that the FBA, Fueled By Amazon businesses where you buy products from China, the Alibaba or Aliexpress websites, you get them shipped to a fulfillment center at Amazon and then Amazon just handles all the selling and the shipping for you.
Kevin Taylor: You just have to do the marketing [inaudible 00:23:50].
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, and there’s other businesses where you set up Shopify stores that might sell a certain product.
Kevin Taylor: It’s funny you should say that, I mentioned this to my marketing intern ’cause I said [inaudible 00:23:59] entrepreneurship and I mentioned it’s FBA thing and like Alibaba and I also mentioned Shopify as well, all of those things you just mentioned. I said “For a young person it could be a great opportunity to have a great business you know?”
Stephen Haunts: When I look at the people that are blogging about being a digital nomad and traveling or doing YouTube videos and it always tends to be sort of younger people doing those particular types of internet businesses.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah sure.
Stephen Haunts: Which is great. So for me, when I go on holiday, if I’m supposed to be taking like 10 days off, completely switching off from work, I can’t do it.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I know.
Stephen Haunts: It’s really sad, I find it very difficult.
Kevin Taylor: I think you should be able to shouldn’t you, I think a … I mean obviously I’m expecting a … our second child in October, so I intend to be working the four hour work week then. I think that’s when it’s valid, perhaps for a couple of months I might just do that because obviously I want to be there to help with the baby. So, I think it can be good but perhaps not in the long term, I don’t think I’m gonna create anything new or bring value to the world if I’m just working four hours a week.
Stephen Haunts: In your situation you’ve got your co-founder, plus this other guy that you’ve hired as well, so they can pick up the slack.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, so there’s a team in there, people that can help whilst I’m doing other things but … I think that’s good but I think I wouldn’t do that indefinitely ’cause I feel that it’s against my mission of the value that I can bring to the world. I wouldn’t be doing myself justice, you know, in terms of what I could produce or the value that I could bring to the world.
Stephen Haunts: So, a lot of that stuff in the book is kind of relevant then, if you are in a passive income situation.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I think … I mean, it’s so interesting that Tim’s business that he mentions, I think that he was kind of at a level where he could automate, had a successful business, it was easy to automate a successful business than just start from scratch and then try to automate. I think that’s the hard thing, it doesn’t really mention that but it’s hard to have a business that you can automate. To be able to get to that level is probably quite difficult. I mean, sure, people do it and I’m sure there’s lots of people out there who do just work four hours a week. I’m sure there’s people that have been successful with that life and enjoy that lifestyle and have other things in their life to do other than just work which I think is the hard thing, isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: I think I do love the whole concept around … I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to this stuff but I mean I love the idea of being able to travel really light and kind of having that … I mean I … ’cause my laptop bag is my digital office, it’s my travel office.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I work entirely from a backpack every day. Everything I work, I carry with me.
Stephen Haunts: So you said the book, the four hour work week. It’s about ten years old now?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So do you think it’s as relevant now as what it was then when it first came out?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I do think it do actually, Tim Ferriss has got his own podcast and he did like an interesting … I don’t know if you listen to it or not, he did like a ten year summary of the four hour work week and I think it’s just as relevant now as it was back then. A lot of the technology that he mentions and the services they use is a bit outdated. A lot of the technology that he references. But, I think the processes are still correct and the outlook is still relevant. I think it’s probably been an inspiration to a lot of people. I know for example this guy called Phil, you know Phil of Theatre Digs? He was inspired to start his business after reading that book and I know a lot of people that have been inspired by the book to go out and do their own thing. They want to live that better life for themselves. It’s been a really, really influential book.
Stephen Haunts: Phil’s got a really good story actually, we’d have to get him on as a guest.
Kevin Taylor: As a guest, that would be great actually, I think he’d have a lot of … he comes from a theatrical background, so he’s a really interesting guy so yeah, we’ll have to definitely get him on.
Stephen Haunts: Cool okay, it’s a fairly old book but it still sounds like it’s very relevant and if you’re looking to start your own business, doing as much research as you can, read as many books as you can is critical to you growing as an individual ’cause no-one’s gonna train you when you work for yourself, you have to train yourself. So, reading books like this is fantastic.
Kevin Taylor: I think it’s always being curious isn’t it? And, trying to learn and listening to podcasts, reading books. I mean, you’ve obviously got to be very careful that that’s all that you do and don’t actually don’t do any actual business ’cause you kind of learn by doing it don’t you, so you’ve got to get out there and do your stuff. It’s always good to have [crosstalk 00:28:20]
Stephen Haunts: Tim’s got another book and I’ve got it in my bookshelf, over there, I haven’t read it yet, I need to read it. It’s called tools for titans where he has taken lots of the interviews that he’s done with celebrities, sports people, business owners. Where he tries to look at what their daily routine is, what is it that makes them successful?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, that’s on my list to read.
Kevin Taylor: I’ve got the other book, the four hour body. I’m like 60% of the way through it on the kindle and I keep meaning to get through it. But, there is a few things ’cause I’m trying to get fit, that’s one of the things I’m trying to do at the moment and there’s a few valid points, things I’ve actually done. Actually, the other thing I’d like to add is about work actually, there’s a book called deep work by Carl Newport, have you read that book? Have you heard of it?
Stephen Haunts: I’ve heard of it, I can’t actually remember if I’ve read it or not, I’ve got so many books.
Kevin Taylor: That’s a good one because it’s all about sort of deep work, work that you have to concentrate on. He comes up with this idea that you can only really concentrate for four hours a day, so you can only really work deeply for four hours each day. And, there’s a bit in there about work and he said that they actually surveyed people, back then they used to have pagers, so they’d page people throughout the day. You get a little buzz and they had to fill in a questionnaire about how they felt, and they actually found that people were happier at work than they were in their own free time [inaudible 00:29:34].
Stephen Haunts: Okay.
Kevin Taylor: People actually enjoyed work more than they thought they did. So, I think if you only work, and a lot of people actually enjoy their work, so you could get pleasure from working and it’s kind of structured. It’s not like … if you’re you’re doing your own thing it’s unstructured and what are you gonna do? That can be quite stressful with work it’s kind of structured, you get to complete something which is quite satisfying. So, work can be quite nice so trying to not work is not always a good idea. It sometimes gives you purpose and value. It’s just something to bear in mind with the four hour work week.
Stephen Haunts: It’s an interesting point ’cause when it comes to work, even if you’re working for someone else. Money or the amount of pay that you get is kind of important up to a certain point and then when you hit a certain threshold it becomes not as important because you’ve already got that comfortable life.
Kevin Taylor: There was actually someone telling me this story, I don’t know if it’s true or not but actually the more you pay somebody the more it demotivates them. I’ve heard this, I’m not sure if it’s true or not. Once you get … obviously you’ve got to be comfortable, once you get to a comfortable level ’cause you’ve got to be able to pay your bills and pay for a roof over your head and feed yourself and stuff.
Stephen Haunts: But then at that point it’s what’s the next most important thing, so are you getting actual meaning from your work? Are you doing something worthwhile with your time?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I think that’s important, I feel like what we’re doing is kind of almost like a mission, so I feel there’s value in what we’re doing so I don’t feel it’s work at times, you know? I enjoy doing it and it’s rewarding, so you can get … and I like the idea of the four hour work week, having the freedom to do things other than work. You might find value in other things outside of work, so that’s when it’s … like you say for example, there was an example Tim gave of people that were like snowboarders and they wanted to go on practice being snowboarders to get into the Olympics or whatever. So, it’s great if you can have a business that you only have to work on for a very short time, because then you can do the thing that you’re really passionate about, if you’re into a particular sport or activity or hobby or something like that or something you want to pursue. So, I think it depends, doesn’t it? I think it’s good for some people but not good for others.
Stephen Haunts: Talking about sort of meaning and work, I’ve got quite a good example. So, I was working for a financial company, I won’t say who they were ’cause that’s not fair but … and there’s two examples, both from this one particular company which are quite interesting. One which I found really motivating and one which wasn’t motivating. So, the one that wasn’t motivating is we had a compliance project we had to do. It is a piece of regulatory legal work which required us to react and we all knew that the work we was doing had a very long life … a very short shelf life and it was basically going to get binned after a couple of months. But, the amount of effort to get this bit of work done was monumental, I mean there was a lot of overtime involved to get it out the door and it was very, very demotivating ’cause we all knew that this thing was just going to get binned in a couple of months.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, that’s frustrating, isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: So, whilst it was important for the company, as engineers we didn’t really see much benefit in it personally.
Kevin Taylor: I was speaking to Nick about this because he’s obviously a developer, a freelance developer. He’s paid to work on lots of projects and he said a lot of it never actually gets used and he finds that quite frustrating. And I said “Everything we do for the business that we’re in together is useful to the world and it does have value.” And, I think that’s quite motivating, isn’t it? If you build a piece of software that’s going to be used a million times, that’s quite motivating isn’t it? Rather than something that’s never going to be used by anybody and it kind of feels like there’s no value to that and its difficult, isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Whereas at the same company, it was about a year after, this other project. We was talking to one of the people who ran the debt collection side of the business ’cause as a financial company we made loans to people, people have to pay their loans back and frequently didn’t, which was the other part of the problem. But, the idea this person had was, we wanted to try an experiment because we think if we give someone an alternative way of paying where we don’t hassle them, we think they will be more inclined to make a payment. So it’s kind of a psychological thing, so obviously if you have a debt collector phone you up that’s a very negative, bad experience. So what they wanted to experiment with, and we did this really as like a lean start up style experiment, it was very skunk works.
Stephen Haunts: It was fantastic, we put a portal up, had a little slider. We had loaded the spreadsheet into the system of the people who were in debt and then the slider would go from five pounds up to the maximum amount that you owed for your loan. And, you could choose how much you wanted to pay, from five pounds, right the way up to clearing off your debts. You selected what you want to pay, you pay it via your debit card and then the promise was the company wouldn’t hassle you for another month until your next installment’s due.
Stephen Haunts: So, we built it, it was very Heath Robinson, it was thrown together quite quickly, just to test out this hypothesis. We loaded the data into it, we had customers from different cohorts, so people that were 30 days delinquent or over 30 days in debt, 60 days in debt, 90 and 120. 120 would be the point where they would be sent off to a debt collector at that point. So, it was last chance saloon for those customers. And we found something really interesting, a lot of people who in the later stages of being in debt cleared their balances in full.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, ’cause they had the opportunity to.
Stephen Haunts: They had the opportunity to and they didn’t have anyone harassing them to make the payment.
Kevin Taylor: [crosstalk 00:34:48] stressful you [crosstalk 00:34:48]
Stephen Haunts: Being in debt is embarrassing isn’t it? Nobody likes being in debt and nobody really wants to talk about it. So, we gave people an avenue to get out of debt and taking the stigma away from it.
Kevin Taylor: I assume this project was successful and they bought value to the world.
Stephen Haunts: Oh, it was massively successful and it went on to become a proper funded project but the people that were involved in it, we built this as a side project.
Kevin Taylor: Side hustle.
Stephen Haunts: It was a side hustle for the company within the company and it was amazingly motivating for everyone that worked on it. It was, for me and the other people that worked on it at the time, it was pretty much all they spoke about.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, compared to the other project where you knew it was gonna get canned after so many months or whatever you know.
Stephen Haunts: So, it’s kind of bit of a long rampy way of me saying one of the most important things is about having meaning in the work that you’re doing.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it’s just not about the four hours that you work, it’s the other things as well that are important, isn’t it? It’s not always about the money or the time, it’s what you find interesting, what you enjoy et cetera.
Stephen Haunts: So, if you haven’t read the four hour work week, I highly recommend going to do it, it’s on paperback and kindle and audiobooks and there’s lots of different ways that you can digest it.
Kevin Taylor: There’s also Tim Ferriss’s podcast as well, so you can check that out as well. There’s some good stuff there as well.
Stephen Haunts: Cool, okay, so Let’s move onto our recommendations, so Kevin, what have you got for us this week?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, it’s another podcast, it’s called the tropical MBA by Dan and Ian and it’s sort of like … it focuses more on location independent entrepreneurs, so digital nomads, people that can work anywhere, be location independent. And it is more sort of the e-commerce or the people that’s at the e-commerce business and that kind of thing or have products, physical products. It is really interesting actually, I’d recommend … perhaps just cherry pick particular episodes that are relevant to what you are doing or what you’re interested in. But, I definitely recommend that as a resource, they were people that were definitely inspired by the whole four hour work week, so they do have that kind of mentality, so it’s well worth checking out.
Stephen Haunts: As you added this into the show notes actually I sort of saw that and well, I haven’t heard of that one before, so I’ve now subscribed to it on my phone.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, do check that one out, it’s very good quality content.
Stephen Haunts: Cool, okay. So, for my pick this week ’cause I do tend to travel a fair amount and I do quite a lot of work while I’m traveling, but sometimes just trying to concentrate on what you’re doing can be quite difficult, especially if you’re in a noisy environment. Generally, me personally, if I’m going to listen to anything and I’m trying to concentrate, I really like film soundtracks.
Kevin Taylor: Okay, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, I put those on, but sometimes I don’t actually want to listen to any music or I might find it a bit distracting. So, there’s a series of applications I use and I think what’s important is the actual app itself isn’t important, it’s kind of the class of apps. Lots of these exist whether you’re on Android, IOS, Windows or MacOS. But, what these apps do is they basically play ambient noises and let you mix ambient noises together over a set of headphones to basically drown out the environment around you. So I’ve got an example, one that I use called Noisli, it’s on the Mac on IOS and I think there’s a web version as well, you can use it on the web. And, what it might let you do for example is you can get like the sound of waves at a beach and then ambience of wind and then you can mix in like rain.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, you can actually build up these sound scapes and what I found is, whenever I use these, I’ll put the headphones on. These are really good with noise canceling headphones.
Kevin Taylor: Okay.
Stephen Haunts: So, if you’ve got something like the Bose QC 35’s which I personally use. They kind of drown out the environment around you and you just have this kind of like ambient scape of effectively kind of like white noise playing in your ears.
Kevin Taylor: Not a bad idea that, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: I found that when I do this, I’m working on something before you know it, two hours has gone past. It really helps you to narrow out everything.
Kevin Taylor: Probably what happens is your brain gets used to being in that, it kind of … Once you put that noise on, your brain knows to engage in work, it’s almost like that trigger, isn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Yeah.
Kevin Taylor: To get into work mode, it can be like that sometimes, for example I think Rob Walling used to recommend putting just one track of music, so the same song repeated over and over again. I’ve tried that, it does work sometimes, obviously I wouldn’t do it indefinitely because that would get really, really annoying but if you’re just stuck somewhere and you … ’cause obviously it gets your brain into this kind of engagement. The other thing is that I use a thing called Chill FM sometimes as well, occasionally so it’s a chill radio station. It’s quite nice as well. But yeah, I think sometimes you just need to get the right noise, don’t you? It’s difficult sometimes, especially if you’ve been working different locations-
Stephen Haunts: And there’s another one as well, which I’ve put the link in the show notes, it’s called Coffitivity, and this is just recordings of coffee shops from around the world.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I say it’s interesting to be in a coffee shop, that I know.
Stephen Haunts: It sounds a bit hokey but there’s a link on their website and it links to some scientific research that’s been done saying that a certain level of ambient background noise actually helps you concentrate. So, there is proper sciencey science behind this. The irony is there’s a particular popular brand of coffee in the UK called Costa Coffee.
Kevin Taylor: Oh yeah.
Stephen Haunts: I use that quite a lot but sometimes they have some music playing that’s really annoying, especially at Christmas. So, I’ve actually put Coffitivity on to listen to like a Brazilian coffee shop while sitting in the coffee shop.
Kevin Taylor: Coffee shop noise in a coffee shop.
Stephen Haunts: The irony is not lost on me.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, I know what you mean, I’ve been to Costa at Christmas and they do go a little bit over the top with the Christmas music, it can get slightly annoying at times, I know what you mean.
Stephen Haunts: But, so you put these on with a good set of noise canceling headphones and I find I can just concentrate for hours and when I’m on the road and traveling, I’ve done this on a plane as well, if I’m trying to get work done on an airplane. So, the noise canceling headphones basically drown out that sort of low frequency warbling of the engines, so you can’t hear any of that and you can’t hear the noisy kids on the plane as well. And then you’ve just got this nice sort of seascape of lapping water and waves and stuff whilst you’re working.
Kevin Taylor: I think it’s finding whatever works for you isn’t it? Looking at different noises and sounds that you can work to.
Stephen Haunts: So yeah, they are fantastic and I highly recommend them, so if you wanna concentrate especially in a noisy environment, then-
Kevin Taylor: Those headphones and those tracks and noises, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, I highly recommend them. Okay, so that’s episode three done and dusted.
Kevin Taylor: I know, wow, it goes doesn’t it?
Stephen Haunts: Yeah, so we’ll be back in another couple of weeks and for our next show we’re gonna talk about some of the tools that we use to run our businesses.
Kevin Taylor: Oh fantastic, yeah.
Stephen Haunts: So, whether it’d be hardware, software. Software isn’t always the be all and end all of what we do but sometimes it really helps and there’s lots of interesting tools that I use and I don’t know if there’s some interesting tools you use, so basically, what do we use to run our businesses?
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, that should be interesting, also the hardware that we use as well, what pieces of kit we use, that’s always kind of interesting as well.
Stephen Haunts: So, with that, we’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Again, if you listen to us on iTunes or any of the other services, if you can leave ratings and reviews that would be really helpful.
Kevin Taylor: Yeah, for sure, we do accept five star reviews so be sure to do as well.
Stephen Haunts: Absolutely, and with that we’ll see you in a few weeks.
Kevin Taylor: Okay, see you then guys, good bye.
Stephen Haunts: See you.