The Lazy Way to Success
by Fred Gratzon
reviewed by Alexander Kjerulf

Fred 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 to Success gets my very highest non-rating :o)



Alexander Kjerulf is the Chief Happiness Officer of the Happy At Work Project based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Alex's extensive background as a leader, business owner and consultant has taught him that happiness is the most important key to success for businesses today. Leaders and employees from IBM, Lego, DaimlerChrysler, Pfizer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and many other leading companies - big and small, private and public - are happier and more efficient after using the methods taught by Alex. You can find much more information on happiness at work at Alex's weblog: www.positivesharing.com .

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Copyright 2006 by Alexander Kjerulf. All rights reserved.

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