“Ten Minute Work Week: The Greatest Business in America” Ferris Extreme Value

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, September 12, 2008

Now this one sounds exciting, eh? I don’t want to say that the mighty, mighty Gumshoe is a lazy man, but I must admit that the idea of a work week that lasts only ten minutes has some appeal … what the heck are they talking about?

It’ll take me longer than ten minutes, but come along for the ride — we’ll figure it out.

The ad is for Extreme Value, the newsletter edited by Dan Ferris, part of the Stansberry & Associates family, and the letter comes from George Rayburn, the publisher thereof. They’d like $800 a year to share this newsletter with you (I haven’t actually seen the newsletter, but I have written about it several times — he finds some nice “deep value” companies, though some of them stay “cheap and undervalued” for a loooong time, or get cheaper — the curse most value investors must bear).

And I’m not sure that I can dig through the clues to reveal every single thing in this ad, since a few of the clues are too weak to confirm, but I can tell you what the “ten minute work week” is, and what hte “greatest business in America” is … just come along for the ride, won’t you?

Here’s what they say about the idea of investing in “ten minute work week” businesses:

“So what kind of business is this?

“Legally obligated to send you hundreds of dollars a month

“The greatest business in America is not a “home-based business” opportunity.

“You don’t need to buy any products. Make or manufacture anything. Or store anything in a warehouse.

“Even better, you don’t need any special skills… an advanced education… or a lot of money.

“Heck, you really don’t need a phone or computer.

“To get started, it will take you just 10 minutes a week.

“You can do it anywhere in the world… at home in your bathrobe and slippers… on vacation… even while you’re sleeping.

“And you will have plenty of free time to do whatever you want — sailing, fishing, painting, hiking, you name it.

“That’s the secret to the greatest business in America:

“As long as people come home from work… send their kids to school… and deliver things across the U.S…. you get paid.

“By law.

“In other words, thousands of people all over the United States will send you a check for a few hundred dollars, several times a year.”

“Greatest business in America” — sounds pretty good, no?

To help whet the appetite and build the argument, there are some testimonials that throw in real peoples’ names, and use the reputation of big publications to make it seem more legit:

“Take Barry Slagle, a retired clerk from Contra Costa, California…

“Barry told the New York Times, ‘[The 10-minute work week] has been the biggest single influence on my life, by far.’ He now flies to places like Hong Kong and Paris, and plays golf twice a week. The Times adds: ‘He has several million dollars, and savors his good fortune daily…'”

The copywriters are trying to outfox the Gumshoe, it appears, because they went so far as to change the name from the quote — he’s actually Bill Scargle. Close enough that they can claim it was a simple error, different enough to slow you down in your search for answers.

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And the “Ten Minute Work Week” — well in this case, as in that redacted quote from the New York Times, that is just …

Berkshire Hathaway (Do you even need the ticker from me? It’s BRK.A or BRK.B, depending on whether you want to put up $116,000 or $3,800 for a single share).

(If you want to see that NY Times article, which is just about some of the Berkshire Hathaway-created millionaires, it’s here — from the NY Times, May, 2, 2004. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like reading it, they don’t mention anything like a “ten minute work week.”)

But it gets better — this isn’t necessarily a tease for Berkshire.

There’s another quote from someone who’s using this “ten minute work week” to rake in millions. Here it is:

“Or John Gaitherson, from Connecticut. He used to earn a living pumping gas and cleaning boats. Thanks to his 10-minute work week, according to BusinessWeek magazine, he now lives in a spacious apartment on New York City’s Park Avenue (avera