Book review: The Lazy Way to Success

The Lazy Way to SuccessFred Gratzon’s book The Lazy Way to Success is a joyous, thoughtful and provocative celebration of the notion that work should, above all, not feel like work.

If your job is a struggle, if you must constantly put your nose to the grindstone, knuckle under and get it over with – you’re not doing it right. Or you’re doing the wrong job and should get out of it with all haste.

And Gratzon should know. Though he graduated sine laude whatsoever as an art major in 1968 and was the original long-haired hippy dropout, he’s started two wildly succesful businesses. The second one, Telegroup, grew to 1100 employees with $400 million in annual sales. All this without ever doing a single day’s work.

His credentials established, what does Fred want us to know about laziness as a tool to success? The three major messages must be these:

  1. The notion that success comes from hard work is wrong and is corroding people and businesses
  2. Laziness is not about doing nothing, it’s about only doing what you like to do
  3. If you “follow your bliss” (as Joseph Campbell put it) success will follow. In fact, if you follow your bliss, you’re already succesful no matter what the outcome

Fred has this to say on the traditional work ethic:

“I put in 16 hours a day of hard work,” is a typical boast from a poster boy for this twisted, snore-inducing mentality. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with hard work and long hours per se. If you don’t mind sacrificing your health, your family life, the rest of your life, and your spiritual evolution and you are willing to settle for a pedestrian achievement (snore), there is nothing wrong with working long hours. In this light, hard work has its own level of merit and satisfaction.

I will readily concede that if you achieve something in one hour, you will achieve two somethings in two hours. If your desiring limit is 16 somethings, then you have the mindless formula. But what if you want a million somethings? Then you need a new math.

The basis of that new math is this pure, simple and elegant truth – success is INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to hard work. That means, as effort and hard work become less, success becomes more. As you move towards effortlessness, success moves towards infinity.

The book itself is absolutely beautiful with very funny illustrations throughout by Lawrence Sheaff. The tone is informal and irreverent but the book does not shy away from a few deep, complicated topics.

I bought my copy directly from the website and it came with an inscription from Fred that said “Wishing you effortless success”.

Thank you Fred, what more could I wish for. And is there really any other kind?

One thought that struck me repeatedly while reading the boook, is that what Fred calls laziness is nearly identical to what I call happiness at work. Many of his principles and ideas are very close to what we teach, which just validates my thinking that happiness at work is not just a nice thing in itself, it’s the best path to business success.

I never rate the books I review, because I only review books I really, really like. And The Lazy Way gets my very highest non-rating :o)

Also read this great interview with Fred Gratzon and of course his blog.

15 thoughts on “Book review: The Lazy Way to Success”

  1. I don’t mean to flame, but the guy who wrote the book claims he had a multinational business which employed hundreads of people, and that now he’s rich.

    If it’s so, why does he SELL this book, instead of giving it away? Other people who are wealthy and have achieved something give away their books for free. For example, John Walker gives away his book called “The Autodesk File”, which describes how he founded Autodesk. Also, there are some other free books on the web from people who have achieved something – for example Jennifer Laycock gives away an excellent book about how to make money on the web, with full information (and doesn’t spam you for it).

    If the corporation he sold was real, then my guess is that the income from the book would be a very tiny fraction of the fortune he already has from the company he sold.

    There is a contradiction here.

    Also, his blog seems to be full of teasers – he promises to teach us “the lazy way to success” but most articles are just fluff without useful info, and if you really want to learn that art, you have to buy the book.

    All these things suggest that the main goal of the guy is to sell the book, that he made up the fact that he was a successful entrepreneur, and that his blog is just a promotional tool for the book.

    Contrast this to Steve Pavlina, who gives out 100% of the information he has on the web, for free.

    I’m not saying that he should not sell the book. But if he really is an accomplished entrepreneur with lots of cash in the bank from previous ventures, then why sell it?

    Also, why does his blog contain just teasers and 0% useful information/advice? If the guy has some really good advice, why not publish 20% in the blog and leave 80% for the book.

    Because the blog contains 0% useful information, my guess is that the book also contains 0% useful information, because any rational person would have put a percentage of the useful information in the blog.

  2. “One thought that struck me repeatedly while reading the boook, is that what Fred calls laziness is nearly identical to what I call happiness at work.”

    Exactly. It’s like he’s trying too hard to spin this laziness angle instead of using better-fitting words to fit the situation.

    @Robert – so true.

    For example, “The second one, Telegroup, grew to 1100 employees with $400 million in annual sales.”

    Where is Telegroup now? I’ve never heard of them.

    Personally, I’d rather build something to last (see books: Built to Last and Good to Great), than make a quick buck the lazy way and cash out, leaving a company behind to flail b/c it wasn’t built with a solid foundation.

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  5. Those other commenters have a point. I don’t trust for-profit helpful books. It means that the writer has no real interest to help anybody but his bank account.

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