Tim Ferriss, Outsourcing, and Losers—A Rant

66164294_ff9d614206Photo by Paul Keller

A while back, I wrote about a trend I’ve seen in the postings I get from freelance job boards:  people who want to outsource the mechanics of their job hunt.

Lately, I’ve seen postings for something I find even more shocking:  people who are personally outsourcing parts of their regular job, behind their employer’s backs, and then taking credit for the work.

People are posting the projects they’ve been given by their employers, paying someone $3/hour to do the work, and then presenting it to their bosses as their own.  Some of these postings even say things like, “I’m trying to get a promotion” or “I don’t have time to do this stuff myself, but I need it to be perfect.”

Seriously, what the hell?  Are people now secretly outsourcing their work to people who will work for peanuts so they’ll look smart without having to, like, DO anything?  Is THAT what we’ve come to?

I don’t have a problem with outsourcing in and of itself.  If you can pay someone $3/hour instead of $20/hour for the same quality work, you should.  That’s just math.  People in those $3/hour countries have just as much right to earn a living as we do.

But to say, “I’m looking to get a promotion,” and hire someone to handle your project, and then present it as your own work—that’s over the line.  You’re lying to your employer, and you’re screwing yourself…because when you don’t do the work, you don’t learn anything.  If you get the promotion, you’ll fail, because you didn’t earn it—somebody else did.  It’s just like in high school, when you have someone else do the homework, and then fail the test (in fact, I’ve seen THOSE projects posted too…doing some kid’s math homework or writing his history papers can provide a steady $3/hour income, apparently).

Evidently, this whole personal-outsourcing thing has been made popular by Tim Ferriss, who wrote The 4-Hour Workweek.  The idea is that individuals, not just companies, should outsource as much as they possibly can, so as to free up more time for really important things, like learning to tango or something.  I don’t know whether Ferriss advocates this sort of bait-and-switch, where you hire someone to do your job and pass the work off to your employer as your own.  I didn’t get through the whole book, because I was so turned off by the gimmicky vibe.

If you want to be good at your job, though, you have to actually do some work. That’s how you learn to be good at things–by doing them.    If you’re paying someone in India to do your job for you, and then passing the work off as your own, you’re a fraud.  What sort of economic security does that provide, really?  All you know how to do is hire someone cheaper.  That’s not a very marketable skill.

Additionally, when your boss finds out you’re a liar, he’s going to can your ass.  When that happens, please don’t write to me for resume tips.  I will have no sympathy.  I hope your job goes to someone with a little more integrity.

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