The 7 Commandments of Blogosphere (and Life) Self-Defense

83 Comments

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I learned self-defense early (Tim, first grade)

I love and hate blogs. One minute I feel like David Weinberger and the next I feel like Andrew Keen.

The beauty of blogs: they give every genius a voice. The beast: they give every idiot a voice.
To be fair, most of us are neither pure geniuses nor idiots but seem to alternate between the two. I get stuck in idiot mode at least 60% of the time and don’t realize it 99% of the time.

So the question of blog self-defense isn’t just “how do we defend ourselves against full-time idiots?” but also “how do we defend ourselves against part-time idiots who are probably cool most of the time but woke up on the wrong/stupid side of the bed this morning?”

“Defend ourselves against what?” you ask? Here is a glowing fan e-mail I received one week ago:

[Your sport] shows that you are a hypocrite to profess helping others with your book. You are showing a grave example of the White horseman to our children. Shame on you. Shame on you… Shame. And Wickedness… It is the most evil war on earth, the one for blood spectacle for those who would entertain by whoring themselves prostituting violence to those who seek and lust to watch inhumanity. You are an evil one who has gained the world and lost your soul.

Was this in response to my how-to article on clubbing baby seals? My “Top 10 Places for Tripping Blind Old Ladies” post? No, ma’am…

It was in response to my post aimed at helping the non-profit Donorschoose raise funding for public school teachers. I mentioned my background in collegiate wrestling (and elsewhere mixed-martial arts training), a controlled contact sport between consenting participants. This reader has since sent me more than a dozen increasingly threatening e-mails (BTW, save all of these types of e-mail for law enforcement, if later needed). I suspect that threatening me into embracing the peace teachings of Christ isn’t what good Christians do. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a sin somewhere. For shame! Shame on you! Shame!

One female career blogger I know laughed when I lamented about these attacks. She gets an average of one death threat and one sex request per week… and she’s trying to help people build more fulfilling careers! How dare she! Shame. And Wickedness.

Why do people attack others trying to do good things? I can only come up with two theories:

1. There are two ways to increase perceived self-worth: elevate yourself or cut down others. The latter takes less time. It’s a case of “the worse you look, the better I feel about myself” and a short-lived high.

2. Empowering others involves removing external excuses for inaction. This is threatening to those who would rather complain than take action to improve their circumstances. Their alternative solution is thus 1 above: attack the messenger instead of the message (referred to in logic as an ad hominem attack).

Here are the 7 commandments of blogosphere self-defense that I’ve found to work.

Most of them are adapted from my time as a bouncer, which was one of several jobs I had to help cover expenses at Princeton. I weighed about 175 pounds and the other bouncers were all between 220-275, which meant that every drunk wanted to fight me. There were five of us who were paid twice as much as other bouncers because we never had to throw a single punch. Here are a few of the rules I used, adapted here for social media:

1. The only way to win a fight is to avoid it.
2. Focus on getting your desired outcome, not on being right.
3. If a fight is inevitable, strike first.
4. To diffuse a fight, admit mistakes and validate others’ feelings.
5. If a group fight is unavoidable, take out the leader.
6. Remove anonymity.
7. There is strength in numbers. Never fight alone unless you have to.

Here is how I adapted them to social media:

1. The only way to win a fight is to avoid it.

No one ever “wins” a fight. There is an emotional cost even for the victor in an argument, and certainly in a physical altercation. It is not possible to win a logical argument with an illogical person, so don’t bother. Your attempts will just fuel the fire and cause the situation to escalate, encouraging them and draining you. The best response is often no response, unless they are recruiting more formidable attackers and becoming a leader. This is covered separately.

I could spend all day every day responding to attacks from critics who have never read the book. It would be a waste of my life and I would get nothing important done. I even told my agent in the beginning — as he forwarded me every Google Alert for my name, including the negative — “Unless it’s something I absolutely need to respond to, please don’t send me the negative stuff. I need my enthusiasm and confidence right now for the bigger picture, and reading cheap shots just slows me down.”

Ignore idiots whenever possible. You do it offline all the time, so why not online?

2. Focus on getting your desired outcome, not on being right.

Fix the problem, not the person. Being effective doesn’t require being nasty. One reader posted a comment on the blog calling me a fraud for not allowing him to access the “so-called” bonuses on the reader-only section. This was immediately followed by “If your moderator does not post my comment, I will post it on several sites that discuss fraud.” Both comments were approved, and I responded with the following:

Dear [no need for names, right?],

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had some trouble. Are you referring to the reader-only section on http://www.fourhourworkweek.com? We’ve worked really hard — there is a team of four or so who work on the site — to add even more extras than are listed in the book. We are really proud to have less than a 1% inquiry rate from those who attempt to register, but sometimes things do pop up, like glitches related to Firefox 2, spam filters for Earthlink/AOL, etc. We also sometimes take down a bonus to add to it or make improvements. More are on the way.

I apologize if you ran into problems and promise that my tech team is really doing their best. They respond to at least 98% of our tech-related e-mails in 18 hours or so, and we’ve made repeated improvements to the registration area based on user feedback.

In all cases, I can’t stop you from putting us on fraud sites, but I’d ask you not to, as there is no fraud here. Please take a second to give it another shot at http://xxxxx.html and email Steve at guru-at-fourhourworkweek-dot-com if you still have problems. We’re really doing our best. Alex and others may also be able to help.

Cheers,
Tim

So, what was the problem? The lead of my tech team spent close to five hours with him, and it was an issue with how he had ZoneAlarm firewall configured on his computer. He thanked the team profusely via phone and said he would post a retraction on the blog. It never came, but the accusations ended. Problem solved. Focus on outcomes, not on being right.

3. If a fight is inevitable, strike first.

If someone is lining up to punch you, there are clear warning signs that a strike is coming. If it’s inevitable, you pre-empt the attack with a loud verbal interruption or you subdue them (for you aspiring bouncers, finger locks work well) so no one gets seriously injured. Knowing that I would be the lightest bouncer on staff at all of the clubs, I fully expected that the drunkest athletes would aim for me at around 1:30am.

The solution? Invite a few of the biggest football players to judo practice for a few consecutive weeks–I was the president of the club–and toss them around or choke them. Word spreads fast and problem solved.

In the case of the book launch, I knew that most people would find my bio unbelievable and aim for personal attacks. To pre-empt this, I put video documentation on the site of the USAWKF kickboxing (sanshou) national championships in 1999, the tango world championships, breakdancing, etc. It didn’t stop people from claiming I was a liar, but those who did due diligence were satisfied. Predict the objections and accusations and pre-empt them.

4. To diffuse a fight, admit mistakes and validate others’ feelings.

and

5. If a group fight is unavoidable, take out the leader.

As a bouncer, you follow the rules of the club and allow in who they want to allow in. This, as you might imagine, produces all sorts of anger in people who are turned away. Simply saying “I don’t make the rules” doesn’t appease anyone, but pointing out that “I would feel the same way, and I hate doing this, but these are the rules I need to follow to keep this job” helps them to empathize and averts most disaster. Emotions run high at the door, so apologizing for an overly aggressive comment also goes miles.

On June 14th, a reader (thank you, Scott!) pointed out a mistaken attribution for the “slow dance” poem featured towards the end of my book. I had hired an intern to double-check the source on this specific reference, but she missed what Scott found. Mistakes happen. I immediately contacted the original author and made the correction that same week for the next printing. Here it is:

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On the 15th, Robert Scoble e-mailed me about someone–let’s call him NBTD (“Nothing Better To Do”)–attacking me all over the web, who was now trolling on Robert’s blog.

Group fights are dangerous. There is a mob intoxication that can drive normal people to attack without good reason. One of my fellow bouncers, a physics graduate student and former amateur middleweight boxing champion of the USSR (this is a world-class accomplishment), had his head kicked in by a group of four shot putters from Princeton and nearby Rutgers. Based on his account, one of them was clearly the leader who incited the rest of a hesitant group to do the unthinkable.

It is near impossible to defeat multiple opponents. The good news is that you don’t have to. If you cut off the head of the group–the leader–in full view, the rest usually regain their sanity or lose their mob-induced balls. I once faced a similar situation with athletes at the door of a club, and as soon as I saw it escalating with one clear alpha-male leader who squared off, I hit him with ippon seoi-nage onto the grass. He just had the wind knocked out of him, but it was so decisive in appearance that the rest of the group dispersed.

NBTD was clearly becoming a potential leader, and I soon saw the extent of his slander all over, but I chose to respond on Robert’s blog because it has the most exposure. Here is part of my response:

I appreciate the skepticism, as I realize that my bio seems unbelievable. I’m a skeptic myself and would probably respond the same way.

I’ll address both of your points here, as I’ve only now come to realize how many places you’ve posted the same criticisms/comments. I would have replied sooner but have been on the road.

I made the attribution of the poem on p. 284 based on the legitimacy of the source of the e-mail — a close friend and doctor. I only just became aware of its use in chain e-mail thanks to a heads up from one of my readers (thank you, Scott), and this will be immediately corrected in the next printing. No fraud involved. I have nothing to gain from making inaccurate attributions other than headache.

For the fighting, please the multimedia section of my site. There is video footage — and has been since the site launched — of me winning the national sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) nationals at 165 lbs. In 1999 in Maryland. I also have a feature article with a photo of me fighting in the May 2007 issue of Fortune Small Business (FSB). I have a black belt in judo from the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan, where I competed from 1992-1993. I have also trained at Brazilian Top Team (Rio) (photos on Flickr), Norwegian Top Team with Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen (Oslo), Takada Dojo (Tokyo), Kiguchi Dojo (Tokyo, where Takanori Gomi trains), Enson Inoue’s Purebred (Omiya, Japan), Yuki Nakai’s Paraestra (Tokyo), and Fairtex Muay Thai in Bangplee, Thailand (one of my Muay Thai knockouts — knee to the liver — is also on the fight video on my site), among others. I now train with some of best in the world of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at http://www.akakickbox.com. Drop in anytime to see me in action.

I hope this clears things up. Robert, I sincerely apologize for the confusion caused by my delay in responding.

Have a great weekend to all,
Tim Ferriss

P.S. [NBTD], I’d sincerely appreciate it if you could hold a ceasefire on the assault. I am not a fraud. I’m just a first-time author doing his best to spread ideas that might benefit a few people.

Did it end all of his attacks? Of course not. But it allowed me to prevent an unfounded en masse attack. More people also came out to ask him to stop his one-man war. That’s the best you can do against those who have NBTD.

6. Remove anonymity.

Anonymity breeds what I call coward courage. For that reason, if someone was about to start a fight with me as a bouncer, I would always oddly stare at their face for about 10 seconds without saying anything at first. “What the $#%& are you doing?” they’d ask, to which I would reply, “I’m memorizing your face so we can call the police and press assault charges if you do anything you’ll regret.” Oh. That drops the testosterone right quick. Be stupid and you’ll face consequences.

In the world of blogs, pointing out that you have IP addresses often silences the courageous cowards. If it doesn’t, silence them with deletion or banning. I never publish comments without real e-mail addresses, and I have no problem with deleting and banning users. I treat my blog like a gathering in my home. Polite and productive debate is great, but I have no time for rude people in my living room. I set the rules–spit acid and nonsense somewhere else. Allowing BS on your blog is a disservice to your readers, in my opinion, and it reinforces the type of behavior that does nothing but breed more idiots.

7. There is strength in numbers. Never fight alone unless you have to.

Don’t fight alone unless you have to. Take a breath and see if the community will correct the attacker. If you give it even 24 hours, this happens more often than you might think. Even in the tsunami of misinformation (and disinformation) that is the Internet, the facts sometimes win.

Here are a few goodies I’ve mentioned elsewhere that were strategically missed for these entries:

-I gave out well over 300 advanced copies of the book. Close to 200 were given to SXSW attendees alone. The fact that there were more than 15 five-star reviews the day debuted on Amazon is not strange at all. It is a reflection of A) the sheer number of advanced copies sent out, B) the content, and C) the fact that I encouraged people who e-mailed me about the book pre-publication to post on Amazon when it went live. Few people spend much time reviewing on Amazon, so I can understand how some NBTDs would turn it into the JFK conspiracy, but the numbers alone explain how this happened.

-The body composition changes and muscle gain I talk about on the blog (what does that even have to do with the book?) were measured at San Jose State University using hydrostatic weighing and circumference measurements, combined with measurements from the Brooks Brothers tailor at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.

-I was national champion at 165 lbs. in the 1999 USAWKF sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) championships. I was cornered by Jason Yee of Boston Sanda and hundreds of people watched it unfold. I was nicknamed “sumo”–which was chanted from the stands–for my unorthodox style of throwing or pushing people off the platform to win by default. The African-American I competed against in the kickboxing video here was the silver medalist. Here’s a recent e-mail from one of the coaches, Josh Bartholomew, at Boston Sanda, who videotaped the whole spectacle:

You mean the tournament where you weighed in at 165 and fought at 180. The guy at the scale said that if he put one drop of water on you, you would have been too heavy. You won all of your fights on push outs. You had three or four fights — I have them all on tape. I could probably put them on a DVD for you. Dude I have a memory like a steal trap. I can tell you a great deal more about that event if you want. -Josh

Thanks, Josh! And, no, I don’t want to spar.


After winning the 1999 finals — bowing to the judges.

-Chinese TV? Here is an advertisement I appeared in for one show. I am one of the FBI agents, second from the left, behind the casket (looking very serious and sad). This was filmed in the Bay Area, Daly City, if I remember correctly:

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###

Of course, you can’t win them all. You can’t prove everything to everyone.

When all else fails, just remember what Maryam Scoble once told me: “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” Word.

Posted on: August 8, 2007.

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83 comments on “The 7 Commandments of Blogosphere (and Life) Self-Defense

  1. Way to go, Tim. It takes a good measure of emotional stamina to be in the public spotlight. Keep fighting the good fight. Your book and example are good for the world.

    Like

  2. It’s amazing just how far people will go to put others down, especially when those others are achieving things of which the attackers are most likely envious.

    Once again you’ve offered some sensible suggestions for how to diffuse heated issues “like a grown-up” and move on. Keep up the good work.

    Like

  3. Hi Tim,

    Loving your blog and your book (still reading it). This particular blog entry reminded me of a slight typo on page 157 – I’ll quote: “If there are 15,000 readers and even 50 (0.003%) [...]”

    1% of 15,000 = 150… so, 50 being 1/3rd of 150, is also 1/3rd of 1% – ergo, 0.3% rounded.

    I can’t get enough of your blogs and book content. You’ve eluded to writing a possible 2nd book, and I can’t wait for that to happen.

    Later

    Like

  4. “The body composition changes and muscle gain I talk about on the blog (what does that even have to do with the book?) were measured at San Jose State University using hydrostatic weighing and circumference measurements, combined with measurements from the Brooks Brothers tailor at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.”

    Yes, but you didn’t *gain* 34 pounds; you *regained* 34 pounds; you’d been heavier than that before. Any experienced lifter knows how much easier it is to regain weight than to add new mass; Buster Douglas went from 234# world champion to 268# parade float in 48 hours after the Tyson fight.

    Also, your pictures had the usual before and after tricks; a lot of guys can show similar improvements to the ones in your pictorial in half an hour; shave, apply fake tan, change clothes, tense up, suck in your belly, get closer to the camera, et cetera.

    That said, it was a very impressive accomplishment; framed in a somewhat misleading way. Like the 4 hour work weeks; that’s maintenance, not setup.

    “Here are some examples of where they still haven’t:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Ferriss

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_4-Hour_Workweek (don’t miss the comments/talk page)”

    It looks like the wikipedia entry lacks third-party sources; that “The information about Ferriss himself in the section Entrepreneurship is not sourced for verification. The section 4-Hour Workweek is also unreferenced. The section Book Reviews, Hoax Email Poem & Claims is highly critical of his single published work, and it is externally linked through inline references that are not listed in the reference section. The WP:COI tag on this article is to indicate that a single editor is not abiding by a neutral point of view in developing this Wikipedia article. Timothy Ferriss is a human being, and as long as there’s an article in Wikipedia about him, this article should fairly and accurately reflect the public record of his activities and achievements.”

    Digging up third party links to disputed claims might serve you; for example “The body composition changes and muscle gain I talk about on the blog (what does that even have to do with the book?) were measured at San Jose State University using hydrostatic weighing and circumference measurements, combined with measurements from the Brooks Brothers tailor at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.”

    SJSU shouldn’t object to posting your results with your permission; BB might raise an elegantly plucked eyebrow at you for asking, but why not?

    More generally speaking, for a lot of critics, information posted on your website will hold less weight than a link to a presumably objective institution like a state university; sorry.

    For the record I believe you, but I read you pretty carefully; you’re careful to say no word that is not true, I think, but you’re willing to engage in marketing type deception, e.g. tanning spray. Doesn’t make you a bad person, just a good marketer.

    Like

  5. Blog wars get ugly fast.(Really, I believe they’re mostly about increasing traffic. If you have a decent readership, they’re going to jump to your defense, and spread the word, and voila! More readers flock to your site to check out the trainwreck in progress.)

    I understand the impulse to defend yourself against slander or personal attacks,but you probably gave these turds a boner by drawing attention to their insults.

    You mentioned something when I first started reading about not expending too much energy on blogging. It was great advice.

    Like

  6. There’s a soon to be famous theory on the internet, but the profanity in the name prevents me from giving the solution. The reactants, however, can let a little creative googling take you there…

    normal person anonymity audience = ???

    Anyways, the Wikipedia biography of you has to be one of the lower quality articles I’ve seen on that site.

    Take Care,
    S

    Like

  7. Hi Tim,

    I enjoyed reading your book and now enjoy reading your blog.

    Your ideas about defending yourself reminded me of something Tolstoy said: Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

    The ideas you presented are practical and proactive. Thanks.

    Be well

    Like

  8. Alas, you haven’t gotten hold of a Christian. You’ve gotten hold of a nutball who hasn’t bothered to take the time to understand you or your sports. Cock fights and dog fights are blood sports (or spectacles). Wrestling and kick boxing are not.

    On the positive side, apparently this person has already put your principles to work for them. It appears they have an abundance of free time to threaten people, so they must only be working four hours or less per week. :-)

    Like

  9. I’ve gotten a death threat and my site is just a personal blog. Why did I get it? Because I also run a fansite and a girl went ballistic because she thought she hadn’t been added to the fan list – nevermind that she was and just didn’t look. She said I should be shot and she’d be happy to do it. Over a stupid hobby site.

    People do think the web affords them anonymity, but I left a note on my blog that I not only had her IP and visit information saved but that I had turned it over to her local police dept. She hasn’t bothered me since.

    Sometimes people are just bent on coming unhinged and there’s nothing you can do to not become a target. Whether it’s jealousy, envy or lack of common sense, you can’t control other people’s online behavior. But, as you pointed out, there are ways you can defuse the situation without animosity or causing the situation to worsen. Nip it in the bud right away, but do it with tact and common sense, I always say. Nothing fuels the fire started by these trolls more than knowing they’ve angered you.

    Kudos on the post, Tim. :)

    Like

  10. Hi Rob,

    Nice catch on the typo! Writing an e-mail to my editor now… Man, you can have a dozen proofreaders read a book 1,000 times and still miss things. It’s amazing…

    Thanks!

    Tim

    Like

  11. Here’s how I keep nasty emails from getting me down — I don’t read them.

    My virtual assistant reads all my public emails and unsubscribes, and deals with them as I have instructed her to do for each situation. She only contacts me if she needs me to give more information or make more suggestions.

    Outsourcing is not just about time management, it is also about insulating yourself from bad-ness.

    That does not work with comments on my blog, though — but I have noticed that when people are mean they tend to address me as “the author” as opposed to calling me by name, and don’t leave a real email address. In that case, who cares what someone says if they are not willing to take responsibility for their own statements. There, it mostly takes practice in letting it roll off me.

    Like

  12. Keep up the great content (so far, I think I’ve sold/bought for friends in total about 8 copies),, so far.

    While I do preface your predeliction for martial arts to my friends who get the book. I was alway very interested in the manner that you fought those and won. Those bouts seem in line with your book exactly. Find a weakness in the system and exploit it.

    I thought this brought home the manner in which your book operates more than anything else.

    The NBTD always make me laugh as well. There’s simply no need to pay too much attention to them, and yes, as you’ve noted, when the whine becomes a wail, do something about it in a way that ends it straight away.

    NBTD obviously had never participated in any martial arts (as the bragging doesn’t have any part in them) but teaching, and learning a new way to do things does.

    I do giggle at times, where you take your work so far to the extreme, I myself take the levels you operate at with a grain of salt (in other words, the goals are there, but I cannot simply drop what I’m doing to complete them all one at a time). But your focus in these operations are always delightful to watch, and your ability to chronicle them make them very watchable/readable.

    Thanks again for your great insights!

    Like

  13. Tim,

    Sorry to hear about all the fun people you have heard from. I hate to think you have to spend your time answering idiots like these guys and girls. Concentrate your efforts on the people who you are helping and want your advice-remember you only have 4 hours a week and we fans should keep you pretty busy!

    Like

  14. IT’S ALL LIES!!!! LIES I TELL YOU!!!

    It was funny reading this. Remember you and I sitting in that restaurant in Austin during SXSW, and me telling you to prepare for all the haters and the people trying to call BS. I remember you not really understanding why people would doubt stuff that was obviously true and you could prove–now you understand. You have handled it really well though; you took all the advice I gave you and added to it. Good job.

    And to everyone who doubts Tim, I will say two things:

    1. I have vetted him up and down, and never found him lacking in truth.

    2. Go roll with him. Seriously, go to AKA and get on the mat and say to his face you don’t believe him. I guarantee you won’t say it twice.

    BTW–Congrats on becoming a #1 NY Times Best Selling Author. I told you it was going to happen…

    Like

  15. Wow, long post Tim! I can tell you feel quite strongly about this.

    Well, now you’re a celebrity, you’re going to have to cope with a bit of celeb bashing I suppose. You can’t please all the people all the time (can you?).

    You’ve really inspired me though, although some times I get frustrated that I’m not there (where you are) yet, then I remember that I’m on the right path, and I’ll get there in the end, and I get excited again.

    Keep up the good work, your blog posts seem to be becoming more frequent, you’ll probably get more readers that way, what are you going to do with us!

    PS I’m surprised you haven’t got any links to your bodyquicken product. I guess you don’t need the extra business (I bought some anyway – it’s a great website)!

    Like

  16. Garbage is just another barrier to entry. For every hurdle, a certain number of people will bail out leaving the rewards to those who choose to keep going.

    And never forget that almost all of those negative comments come from 14 year olds!

    -Richard Lee

    Like

  17. I’m am reminded of a particularly excellent episode of The Simpsons where Bart joins a Catholic church. In the end they have a scene in the future where two robot colonies go to war against eachother over religion… “my God stands for peace and tolerance” VS “my God stands for love and understanding”.

    The point is… that people kinda miss the point…

    The 34 pound gain story: It inspired me that it could be done and I started weightlifting using your methods (Colorado exp). 10 pounds muscle gain since reading your book (2 months ago?). How many others did this inspire? I’ve seen at least 10 people start their own blogs on this topic. Has anyone been negatively affected? I don’t think so.

    Good thing I’ve been alerted about the tanning spray scam though! Now I know to use it too, before I take my “after” pix! ;)

    Like

  18. Wow is that really a note you wrote? That is soooo cute! LOL… coming from a mom of a little boy who loves stuff with fighting in it so I can totally see getting this letter ,lol (he’s 5)

    Angela Wills

    ###

    Hi Angela,

    Yep, that is a real letter. Mrs. Vinski, the best 1st-grade teacher ever, forced me to write that to my parents. It was a real keeper ;)

    Tim

    Like

  19. Tim,

    I am so pleased that you took the time to write this post. In my last comment I almost asked you about how you have decided to response to the criticism and then decided not to on the basis that it just gave more “airtime” to your critics.

    Your rules are spot on. I think the hardest thing is to hold yourself back from always going in guns blazing when idiots post nonsense about you. I think your approach illustrates that you really walk your talk in terms of focusing on what’s important and ignoring what’s not.

    I’m glad you have responded to some of this though because I’m sure there are people out there who have let the crticism they have read about you affect their view of you and your ideas. Now they can see the other side of the story.

    Andrew

    Like

  20. Tim,

    This is a great post. :) I do have a question that I couldn’t find the best place to ask, so I will ask it here. Are there any plans for translations of the book to Thai, Portuguese, and Mandarin? It would really be great if this can happen because I have friends and potential clients/partners that could benefit from the book.

    Like

  21. Tim-

    this is an important post. Everyone who blogs, writes a book, or otherwise puts them self “out there” will face this type of BS. You make many good points. I agree that anonymity is one of the biggest causes for a lot of the worst comments on the internet. I have some readers who say mean stuff while hiding behind fake names.

    Congrats on the success of your book and blog. I hope our paths cross sometime, you are interesting to read.

    thom

    Like

  22. Hi Tim, Chino here from the Philippines. I’ve been reading your blog through RSS ever since I read your entry about RSS readers. I’ve been working like a horse since mid-2005, and recently married, so your outlook on time management, work and rewards blew me away! I have now just purchased your book on Amazon. I know that I may not be able to replicate your magnitude of success, but at this point in my life, the hours away from work really do matter and I hope the principles you write about in your book will somehow help me make more time for myself outside the workplace. More power to you!

    Like

  23. I think the anonymity of the internet also makes it easier to deal with. A hate mail is just like a bit of spam. You put it in the junk folder and be done with it. Or as Tim says keep hold of the IP information just in case for the future.

    If you go to any chat room on the internet, or any forum, the place is full of these people trying to get a rise. Same as the real world. Everybody just needs to be prepared to laugh at.

    Like

  24. As a fellow martial artist and bouncer from the age of 16 with 20 years of experience in Ireland, Australia, and Wales (a combined equivalent of Bosch’s right panel of “garden of earthly delights” triptych ) http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bosch/delight/ I agree with all your points Tim.

    One extra point which i have found defuses most situations (except in the case of the psychotic) is a “way out card”. It all comes down to pride in a lot of cases. Once a person has committed themselves to a public attack on you they are committed by pride and fear of appearing weak in the pubic eye, to carrying it out. No one wants to appear foolish and have their pride dented in front of their friends. When it comes to a choice between having their pride dented in public or some part of their body dented, I have found 99% (especially if intoxicated with alcohol/drugs or anonymity in an online case) will chose to continue and escalate the situation.

    If the aggressor is offered an “out with pride intact” card instead of a physical or online drubbing they will almost always take the “out with pride intact”.

    In bouncing it is the classic case of telling the person in front of their friends in a humanistic tone, “I understand and I’m really sorry, I would be angry too. It’s nothing against you personally at all, and the last thing i want is an argument or worse with you. (I always insert this if the person is with his girlfriend or female friends as it inflates their ego and deflates their anger) But it is a rule I’m told to follow by the management and i need to enforce it to keep this job. I’m really sorry.” If they are still angry I step closer and whisper just loud enough for his friends to hear “Look, i’m studying and i really need this job, I’m already on thin ice with these people. Can you help me out here please, i really don’t want to give them a reason to get rid of me”.
    This has worked in most cases.
    Of course you are always prepared for a negative reaction.

    The same can apply online. I am a working musician traveling the world and I have had lots of negative posts, flames and childish insults directed at me online.
    As you said the worst thing you can do is enter into the fray. If it continues I offer the “out with pride intact” card. This in conjunction with admitting any mistake or acknowledging one of their points (only if valid) usually takes care of the problem and can actually turn a vitriolic enemy into a supporter. This does not mean you have to appear groveling or cap in hand. If it is accompanied by facts supporting yourself it is just a quiet way of reinforcing your self or argument while offering them a way out with respect intact.

    The worst thing possible is to wade in all guns blaring. Offer facts and nothing more. Offering your rage strokes their ego and achieves their goals. Dispassionate, normal speech in the face of raging insults strikes far harder than wild recriminations and angry defensive insults and remarks.

    Be careful also with humour to defuse a situation. It almost never works in real life and without the hand gestures and facial expressions, almost always ends in disaster online.

    On a final note, as someone who has received numerous (too many to count) threats of being shot, stabbed, kneecapped and “dissapearing”. Not one threat has ever been followed up. So it is not worth worrying about. They are trying to instill fear into you to feed on your waking moments and cause you uneasy sleep. If you give it a second thought they win.

    As a friend used to say don’t worry about the ones with the mouth, keep your eye the ones who say nothing and walk away quietly.

    The only people who have actually tried to kill or maim me have never ever offered a warning. And these people are very very rare and i doubt most people will ever encounter any in their lifetime so don’t become paranoid! life is too short.

    The tall poppy gets the most sun.

    Keep up the good work Tim and enjoy yourself.

    Like

  25. Nice post Tim.

    Not just the personal stuff, but the rules that people can apply. I get a lot of questions from people on how to handle negative buzz.

    I once got into an online spat with a local blogger that was well known for attacking everything and everyone. He was later exposed as someone that had been convicted of a sex crime. Once that went public, it really let the wind out of his sails and he eventually closed his blog and retired because the backlash was too great for him.

    I have no idea of the details as I did not pay close attention, but I know at one point he stopped blogging and said he should not still have to pay for his mistake.

    It was funny hearing him say that.

    Like

  26. People are incredibly sad, that’s the only thing I have to say. Keep doing your thing and forget about them! If they put as much energy into slagging you off as they did into something productive, I’m sure they would go far.

    Good article too – if you get lemons, make lemonade right?!

    All the best.

    Like

  27. Well when you write the best book I have read in over a year people tend to have their evils come out. It is OK to be a target…that means you are on the right track.

    The higher you get on the flagpole the more your ass shows.

    Like

  28. Tim – GREAT post as always, I did threaten to choke you out last time, so I will await your threatening response, ha ha, although I know you can kick my a**.

    Those are some phenomenal training grounds you’ve been to, wow!!

    BTW, David (your OLD Judo mate from way back when) just finished your book, I’ll be getting mats in my gym and we’re gonna start getting in some BJJ and Judo here

    Systems, systems and automate :) RIGHT :)

    He is loving your book as is everyone else who i GIVE IT TO.

    Also, can you please re – post where to purchase a BOX of 4HWW book’s, I know you did this before and I apologize for asking you to do so again, it’s time to stock up as these will be gifts for many of my clients.

    Your bouncer days sound great, I used to bartend / bounce at a great dive bar, the guy who ran the liquor store was the local high school wrestling coach and he loved to throw down, ha ha – he had that REAL Man strength that seems to come around late 40′s or so and it was painful to wrestle him!

    Well, keep the great posts coming and anytime you’re in the area you have a place to train – strength or BJJ / Judo.

    We’re 25 min. south of Princeton.

    Thanks in advance for the re-post of how to purchase a box of 4HWW books.

    I hope to hear more about your lessons learned from wrestling, combat sports and more and how they transeferred to your business.

    Best,

    Zach :)

    PS – I was hoping to see you when the TapOut show visited your gym and picked up that dude w/the wild hair who was living in Bob’s office and grilling on his broken Foreman Grill! ha ha

    Like

  29. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir at this point, seeing as everyone except mom’s with leprosy has validated your blog.

    I’ll add to the ego booster: I affirm your blog and thus indirectly validate your existence as well. At least you don’t take up random space without contributing to the greater knowledge.

    Although I find hilarity in most things negative or rather not PC, it’s always easier to negate than affirm. The techniques you’ve provided are interesting because they are parallel to what I was taught in Karate – it was the older technique that required more diligence than the modern Americanized verison of flailing arms and legs in random directions hoping it doesn’t look like what it is: a contrived idea. The real deal: The first thing I learned when I stepped into the dojo is avoid fighting at all costs. So, I learned how to run away for the first hour. Literally, run. I ran around Hearst gym for an hour.

    Anyway, I’m less articulate than Declan but I think you get the gist of my point. I swear if I was smarter I could quote Sun-Tzu but actual intelligence is escaping me. I don’t think I’m even allowed to be responding to a post while I’m at work. Go figure.

    Like

  30. I’m a female Asian writing to support your very interesting book. I wish I had read it 5 yrs ago. I would’ve lived a different lifestyle now with less stress. I’ve already incorporated some ideas & hopefully will see results in a year. I bought a couple books to give away as well. I subscribe to your blog too. Keep the good stuff coming and ignore the negative lunatics.

    Like

  31. What an epiphany for me!

    I’ve kept a “healing journal” blog for 2.5 years, working through my own issues and with mostly women in their early 40′s who are divorcing and starting over, and I have recently started selling books of my blog material to this audience. I routinely receive threats of physical violence or legal action, often because I’m supposedly writing about THEM when I have no idea who they are or that they’ve done the examples I give.

    #6– Removing anonymity has been a huge help, particularly with the death threats posted where my children would see them and with the cyberstalker who logged on 84 times a day (seriously). Filtering helps, too, but sometimes a comment is meant for me alone and if they’re threatening me, I may just approve the comment, including their identity.

    The down side is that you can run around like crazy trying to set the record straight and having all these people clutching at you when they haven’t even read your material, and it eats away at your time and your joy. It’s not just time consuming, but the creature feeds on YOUR energy.

    But here’s the epiphany…not a single person who has attacked me on my blog or about my blog is one of my core audience for my books. I am defending my work to people I cannot help and who don’t want to do the work to help themselves. I suspect your naysayers are doing the same and holding onto their old behaviors rather than ready to shift to a different mindset about their life plans.

    Like

  32. Great Job Tim!

    It amazes me how people like going after others that are trying to do good. What benefit does it do anyone to attack you? Obviously the person failed to read your book and absorb the spirit of it other wise they would’ve engaged on more productive activities like finding themself a muse.

    We all thank you for your book and opening our eyes to the world of possibilities. Cynics and “haters” will always exist. If you don’t have them then it means you haven’t made it.

    Thanks again Tim. Keep up the good work!

    Eddy

    Like

  33. Very interesting stuff. Sad to see you being attacked in a viscious way. If person wants to challenge your philosophy there is a more productive and respectful way to do it. For example I love your time saving tips and work out tips. Yet, I do wonder about your view on time in regards to eternity. Is there more to time than just the temporal? How can these prinicples work in areas that can’t be reduced to 4 hours such as fields that work with people?(Sure you already address that some where in your work…sorry)

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  34. Tim

    Don’t take it personally. James Frey ruined it for everybody. :)

    You wrote a great book and you don’t need to defend yourself.

    “The envious praises me unknowingly”

    Kilhil Gilbran

    Like

  35. Tim,

    This is the first time I’ve ever posted anything to a blog.

    Since reading Tony Robbins “Unlimited Power” when he was a young “hot shot”, I have never been more blown away by a book…especially by someone so relatively young.

    (And I’ve read hundreds…your restricted reading list was a refresher…and owe my life to many sterling works).

    Your thinking is cogent and progressive, you energy is invigorating. You’ve taken the time and energy to put to pen things that have floated through my mind but haven’t nailed down.

    Congratulations to you!!

    You truly are a credit to society…can’t tell you enough how you’ve impacted me and others…when I do something great with your material (after reading Tony Robbins I started several successful businesses and became a heavy real estate investor) I’ll let you know what it is! The goal is to automate more, make as much or more and play more…you’re trailblazing a new era for the next generation!

    Hoorah! Good Job! Keep up the good work, play, and travel!! You’re exceptional!!

    Ginger

    Like

  36. For about four years now, I have been regularly getting harassing emails from my ex-wife, who refuses to stop. I’ve tried everything I can think of, including all of the tactics above. Now I just ignore them, but they keep coming and coming. I route them all to a filter that bypasses my inbox, but many times they’ll show up on my phone before getting filed away. I don’t want to delete them, or block them at the server, in case I need them as evidence, as Tim says above.

    When she wrote threatening things about me on a blog, about paying someone to have me killed, I took all the info to the police. I had to explain to them what a blog was. THey were less than helpful.

    Like

  37. I just want to second the notion that these people are likely teenagers – or have the mindset of teenagers, anyway – that is, trying to get a rise out of you to get attention for themselves. Or wait, maybe that’s two-year olds :) In any case, that’s how thay have to be treated…like children! Now, where did I see that post about getting a killer tan in less than five minutes? Wait, Oh yeah, on a sign at Wal-Mart…:)

    Like

  38. Hey Tim!

    First, I want to thank you for showing me the life I’ve always desired is acheivable. It is refreshing to read a book which not only inspires but provides a clear path to follow. Much like you, I have always refused to be locked down by the traditional life path. Unlike you, however, I have not yet found my way. Herein lies my proposal.

    Your story about challenging students to contact someone unreachable inspired me to contact you. With your mobile lifestyle and your emphasis on guarding your time, I imagine you are very unreachable, so I decided this blog would be the most likely place. So, here goes. . .

    Why not prove the critics wrong by taking on a small group of “apprentices” and coaching them as they build muses. This would show you were the real deal and attract even more publicity for your book. I remember you wrote about helping friends acheive a good deal of income in just a few months. You wouldn’t have to completely babysit them, just offer a little more guidance than can be found in the book, proving your ideas are sound and can be applied successfully.

    Of course, I volunteer to be among your group of guinea pigs, and I would be a prime candidate. I am a twenty-six year old entreprenuer with no ties or real career. I have a limited college education (AA degree) and am fairly intelligent. I come from a low-income family. I am an ambitious entreprenuer, a quick learner, and a thrill-seeker. As I have no connection to you and no great accomplishments, my success in administering your techniques would be a testament to their worth. When I show your book to people, they are often intimidated by your accomplishments and brush the book off as something out of reach for “normal” people. Counter this by proving you can help anyone with a fair degree of intelligence and passion to do the same, thus demonstrating your principles are universally applicable.

    Whether or not you take this proposal seriously, I will put your guidance to work. Thanks again for showing us dreamers that we really can live whatever life we choose.

    Much respect,
    James Druman

    ###

    Hi James,

    Thanks so much for the great letter and kind words, but I’m not taking on guinea pigs at the moment. The main reason? I want you to become your own best guinea pig! My biggest objective is to make people self-reliant, and I think the book — in combination with the communities on the main book site and elsewhere — is the best place to start making independent decisions. None of the micro-testing I suggest is risky, and expanding your sphere of comfort is hugely important. The raw materials you need are there, and the best practice is often jumping in and then figuring it out. I know how you feel, as I’ve been there, but trust yourself to figure it out!

    All the best,

    Tim

    Like

  39. People never seize to amaze me.

    Next the woman (the one that despises you for MMA) will be threatening you with bodily harm for promoting MMA. I guess, I too, am a hypocrite and a shameless whore for enjoying a sport of violence and degradation (kind of like dodge ball).

    Can I get a high-five?

    Or do you want to start a baby seal- clubbing team?

    One thing I learned from business some time ago was that regardless of how much you try helping other people, you can not help someone unless they are open to it. A large percent of the population (I’ve heard something like 30%) are losers and waste everyone else’s oxygen.

    If you listen to all the complainers (the ones that aren’t legitimate and reasonable), they will ruin your life. I find that it’s not even worth replying, much less reading their emails (although it can be entertaining).

    I’ve had people cuss me out for giving them great information for free that they requested. At first, I used to get upset, but now I just laugh and call them insulting names while deleting their email.

    I’ve heard of other people sending money to people (with no strings attached, free money) and people still bitching. LOL.

    Is it just me or do losers seem to think that everyone else is a bigger loser than them. Closed minds can’t expand. Plus, it’s easier to write off everything and blame others than busting your hump to reach your dreams.

    Alright, enough on that.

    Keep up the great work Tim. I loved your book, and it happened to be very timely for me. Helped me refocus on where I was wanting to go.

    Keep the blogs coming. Great info.

    Like

  40. Fair enough, Tim. Thanks again for the inspiration and blueprints for a mobile lifestyle. Keep spreading the message!

    Happy Travels,
    James Druman

    Like

  41. What a wonderful post! I’m not sure that I quite agree with you about walking away (i.e., avoiding the fight). In a real (as in, happening now) fight, yes…you should choose to walk away, at your leisure, and this is usually exactly the right thing to do. BUT I believe it’s sometimes a mistake to assume that there’s GOING to be a fight and to walk away prematurely.

    Few of us are ever 100% wrong or 100% right. The more evolved among us like to listen to the “other” side, and some of us can come to see aspects of things we hadn’t quite considered before. If the situation warrants it, I consider these to be teachable moments.

    I hope that I will always be able to learn something I had not previously considered from people whose opinions differ from mine. If they walked away without expressing the reasons for their views, because they automatically anticipated a fight, my experience on this earth would be greatly diminished.

    Like

  42. Great post Tim. Maybe you can offer some advice to fellow Princetonians at TerraCycle who are being sued by Scotts for suggesting their product works better than the “leading synthetic fertiliser”. Can’t imagine what Scotts hopes to achieve by picking a fight with such a tiny company. For shame Scotts! Shame! Wickedness ;)

    MCM

    Like

  43. Dear Tim

    I am reading your book with interest. However,being a physician, I find it to be impractical to impliment the four hr week. On another level getting a muse may contribute to the solution.

    I would like to have your input.

    ###

    Hi J!

    Thanks for the comment. The muse will definitely create more options. Second, most physicians are doing the work for reasons other than finance, so your might well opt to spend more than 4 hours per week on your job, as it is also your vocation. This is often true for doctors, pastors, teachers, etc. The muse chapters also elaborate on externalizing your expertise to separate time from income.

    Hope that helps!

    Tim

    Like

  44. Lorna – fabulous epiphany. I’ve just been through my first online blogbash. I finally had to switch to filtering comments and erasing the entire debacle from my blog space. I came to your same conclusion: they purport to hate me and everything associated with me (I even won a Wanker of the Month Award on one attacker’s site – which I graciously accepted) because they’re just living from a different paradigm. A small, frustrated one. Not my audience, so not my concern.

    Here’s a thought: List the top two or three most world-changing people that have graced the planet. Think folks like, oh, I dunno, Jesus, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King. Embraced by the world with open arms? Not really. Not that I’m calling Tim “Jesus” (though perhaps a saviour of sorts), but it seems people on a path to help other people just get stones thrown at them. Humans can be dumb.

    For my part in the karmic wheel: Tim, your book has been nothing short of perfect. As a yoga instructor who has wanted to expand into product but is dirt-poor and business-ignorant, your detailed ideas broke the process down to something I simply couldn’t find an excuse not to do, especially when you use a yoga instructor as an example. Not a lot of ways around that one. I’m on my way, and if things turn out well, I will find you and kiss you. A lot, even. (uh … that’s not meant to be a threat … please don’t publish my IP or drop-kick me to the cement if we meet …).

    Like

  45. Hi Tim,

    Truly, you are a gift to the world. Your book is fabulous!

    I traveled from 2000 – 2006 and 3 1/2 years of that time was spent sailing. I am so grateful to have had that experience. I have met fabulous people and seen some incredibly beautiful places. Your book has inspired me to pack up and go again.

    As a traveler, I’m sure that you have lots of crazy stories to tell, I know I do. My family and friends often accuse me of having a ‘weirdo magnet’. I seem to attract unusual characters and amusing (usually in hindsight)situations. So on that note…

    I’m just building a website and several people have suggested I start a blogging. After reading your blog, I’m a bit concerned about drawing attention from
    NBTD’s. Do you have any advice for a novice blogger before I get started?

    I have a feeling we’ll meet someday so until then..

    Cheers!

    Like

  46. Hi Tim. I was looking for a relevant spot to add a comment and I found this one pretty hilarious. Hilarious because of the language that this lady used, “shame and wickedness”. Anyways I’ll leave that to the movie “Zeitgeist” to get into.

    The reason I wanted to contact you was because I have been reading your book and im really devouring it. I want to let you know that Im so grateful that you decided to write a book that really reveals a lot of details.

    Im not going to ask a question right now but I do have to say that the Relax in Public comfort challenge is serioulsy awesome (in my opinion). I Love a good hard belly laugh and when I get the nerve to do this, I know that I will feel so alive afterwards.I love being authentic with a side of crazy, to me that keeps me young.

    And- will you post a pic of you doing this?

    Thanks for being yourself and sharing with others- Fierce.

    Like

  47. Hi Tim.

    The reason I wanted to contact you was because I have been reading your book and im really devouring it. I want to let you know that Im so grateful that you decided to write a book that reveals tons of details. I have been looking into building an online business for about a year now, and ive found some ok stuff, a lot of overpriced coaching courses, and all of it was information-overload. So glad I didnt bite the hook!

    Im not going to ask a question right now but I do have to say that the Relax in Public comfort challenge is serioulsy awesome (in my opinion). I Love a good hard belly laugh and when I get the nerve to do this, I know that I will feel so alive afterwards.I love being authentic with a side of crazy, that keeps me young.

    And- will you post a pic of you doing this?

    Thanks for being yourself and sharing with others- Fierce

    Like

  48. Our school system contributes to the emotional immaturity in our culture. In 1852 Horace Mann adopted the Prussian education system here in the US. Forced schooling plucked children from their communities into large scale behavioral experiments inspired by Frederick Taylor’s “social efficiency” movement. Funded by industrial capitalists, it was a breeding ground for the service of corporate and political agendas. Routines were established to create ideal factory workers. Boredom reigned to ultimately create adult consumers. Inquiry based learning through critical thinking to acquire self-knowledge lagged since this trait could threaten the establishment. As a result we have a nation full of adult-children. I agree that the best way to handle one of these dullards is to disengage. If you must then use Sun Tzu’s Art of War as a guide.

    Like

  49. Good post. Covers a lot of good terrain. The negative stuff is usually not worth even addressing, but at least we can take comfort knowing we don’t have to go through life being that person.

    Love to spar with you sometime. I have to free up some time first, so I’m taking notes out of my second read-through.

    Like

  50. Cool article! You should call it “The art of war” for bloggers, heh.
    You came up with 2 answers to the question “Why do people attack others trying to do good things?”, and I have another one: the more miserable some people feel, the more inclined they are to vent their frustrations on others.
    I always remember the old saying “the best revenge is living well” ;-)

    Robbert

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  51. If you blog, you’re bound to have someone troll your site at some point, especially if you write about anything controversial. Here are some great tips for diffusing the situation.

    Like

  52. These 7 commandment to self defense as discussed by you is such a very interesting blog and it is worth the time checking on it. By offering wise suggestions on how to cool down heated issues in a very mature way, you gave people the right understanding of how real self defense should be.

    Like

  53. Self defense, as we normally think of i just looks like a game but in reality a very useful tactic that anyone should learn to get away from danger and to instill discipline as well.

    Like

  54. Ohh.. I am touched by the sorry note you wrote for your mom and dad. For kids it is so hard to admit to parent about mistakes and naughtiness. If I was your dad, I will totally understand and forgive you for what you have done. But of course hurting someone is not good, right? If you still have other options then do it… Make punching be your last way out.

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  55. On the flip side of haters, these two women HATE MY GUTS on twitter and by them talking about me weekly in the audience we share, I went to bed one night with 1941 twitter followers that I gained in about six months, to waking up the very next day to 12, 648. I was speechless and thought something was wrong and am always waiting for the number to decrease but I’ve been holding steady for six months. No such thing as bad publicity I guess.

    Like