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Be Your Own Patron

4-hour workweek Tim Ferriss



Lesson: Turn on the Income Autopilot and design the life of your dreams


We often hear the story of the struggling artist; men like Van Gogh who were unappreciated and misunderstood in their own time. They suffer. They pine. They create. And no one cares. Were a scientist to capture the teardrops from these lonely poets, surely he would find the lost city of Atlantis. They suffered and that is a tragedy. Tragedy instructs. Yet, those struggling artists in our own day need not suffer as their forefathers did. No. If they but have the strength to adjust their sights to the world around them, they can use their skills in unimagined ways to create a foundation of wealth.

With this newfound ability to create wealth for themselves, artists can usurp the one role in civilization that has always held sway over the artist’s world. Every artist since the creation of the paint brush has relied on this individual. He is the patron. Today’s patron is Master Internet and Mister Marketplace. Van Gogh was born into a family with a supporting brother who held the position of Patron. Most are not so lucky. Most are like Douglas Price.

Doug is a musician living in a small brownstone in New York. And like his brethren of the vibrating class he wished to spend his days and his nights with those sounds he loved to produce. And also like his brethren of the business suit, he was doing work that had become monotonous.

Then there was his friend, Tim Ferriss. He was unusual in that he did not seem to fit any class. One day, he came to visit Doug in New York. This is always what baffled Doug. The way Tim could up and leave his work whenever it suited him. He would stay in Doug’s New York Brownstone for a few days, and then he would evacuate the country.

This time, Doug decided to investigate his successful friend. He wanted to know what he did to live the life he wanted. Or, perhaps Doug wanted to find his patron.

“How long will you be gone this time?” Doug asked before Tim left to catch a cab ride to the airport.

“As long as it takes.” Came the reply, which was said jovially, but seemed to Doug to be said haughtily.

“What are you doing before you leave?

“Ah. I’m just wrapping things up on a venture I’ve been working on. I won’t be checking email for months, and I want to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing while I’m away. When I come back, I suspect things will be fine. People rarely need me as much as I would like! But that does free me up even more to create my next project.” 

“Must be nice.”

“Yes. Yes it is.” He paused a moment and looked at his friend. “It’s not as complicated as you think. I’ve learned to make things as simple as I can but not simpler. Something like that.”

Douglas Price walked his friend to the taxi and watched him go on what would become a six month journey. He realized that it wasn’t envy he felt, but admiration. Why couldn’t he drop the work he was doing now and simplify his own life? Rather than travelling the world, he could have the time to practice and sell his music. Better yet, he could do both.

Taking a page from Tim Ferriss’ book, he set to work. He was going to turn on what his friend called “income autopilot.”

He needed to select a market. Since he was a musician, Doug chose to sell a product to music and TV producers. He knew them quite well, so he understood them. Next, he brainstormed products. His research led him to popular sound products available for resale by large manufacturers of sound libraries. He figured he could arrange wholesale purchase of the products to TV and music producers and then simply have the manufacturer ship direct to the customer—a common practice called “drop-shipping.” Doug had learned from Tim never to jump into a market, so he mico-tested it first. on Ebay, he tested the demand by auctioning the products to the highest bidder. Thus he learned a good price point. Next he had a Yahoo store designed and began testing google adwords. The last stop was rolling out the site and automating it. He experimented with print ads in trade magazines. And then he outsourced all of his operations—from taking customer phone calls to finding new inventory. What Doug ended up creating was more than an ideal income generating machine; he ended up creating his ideal day.

It took more than a year, but then it happened. One gorgeous summer day, he woke up and, as usual, went straight for his coffee. He had minor jet lag after having returned from gallivanting through the islands of Croatia. He was smiling like a young lover when he prepared to open his email inbox. 32 messages. All of them easy to answer.

He had a few messages about a new company he had recently started called Last Bamboo, which he hoped would reinvent peer-to-peer technology. It was almost complete, but he decided to let his engineers explore some more before finalizing the product

He opened messages from people praising a hot contemporary art gallery in Boston. It was called Samson Projects, and everyone said they loved his new sound exhibit. Other museums were reaching out to ask him to be their sound curator.

He even had fan mail addressed to “Demon Doc,” praising his latest instrumental hip hop album.

Then there were 10 orders for the company that had made it all possible, the sound company

The customers had seen his ad on google, went to his site, purchased products usually around $325, and received the automatic PDF with billing and shipping information. Three times per week, Doug opened up his store, and pressed a button to charge all the customers simultaneously. Then the manufacturers would send the customers their products. In one hour Doug made $3,478.60. In a month he usually earned $10,000 from the company, allowing him to double as Demon Doc, tech investor and sound curator.

The artist becomes the businessman in the era where creativity meets commerce. That is, in the information age he who learns to turn on income autopilot, wins.



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