6 Months to 6 Figures

6 months to 6 figures – it sounds too good to be true. In the next 6 months, could you go from your current position in life, and turn yourself into a person capable of producing $100,000 in value?

Do you think it’s possible in this day and age? What habits would you have to implement to make this happen?

6 months is 180 days. Think about what you could accomplish in 180 days…spend an hour a day for 180 days and that’s 180 hours. Spend 2 hours a day on something for 180 days and that’s 360 hours. Spend 8 hours a day on something for 180 days and that’s 1,400 hours.

If you want something, taking action and doing the work will result in getting closer to your goals.

6 Months to 6 Figures, by Peter Voogd, is a no-nonsense book about how you can develop yourself into a person with skills worth 6 figures.

6 Months to 6 Figures not a business plan – there are no business ideas in the book. Instead, Voogd presents actionable steps to get you started towards your goals.

Below is a book summary of 6 Months to 6 Figures, takeaways from 6 Months to 6 Figures, and a reading recommendation for you.

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you can change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod

Book Summary of 6 Months to 6 Figures

6 Months to 6 Figures gives you a framework and plan to develop thoughts, goals and habits to become a person with skills worth 6 figures.

To develop these skills, Voogd discusses six musts you need to address on your journey to success.

To become someone worth 6 figures in 6 months, you must do the following:

  • Have Absolute Clarity
    • You must have clear goals and a clear vision of what you want in life.
  • Increase Your Confidence
    • What good are goals if you aren’t confident you will reach them? Why bother then?
    • Having confidence in yourself is half the battle.
  • Shift Your Circle of Influence
    • You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
    • If you want to be a millionaire, spend time with other millionaires.
  • Exhibit Consistent Energy and Motivation
    • If you devote 1 hour a day to your goal, over 180 days, you will have put in 180 hours.
    • How much closer to your goal if you have put 180 hours into your work?
  • Create Intentional Result Rituals
  • Continually Focus on Growth and Learning
    • If you aren’t growing, you are dying.
    • Nothing stays the same over time, there is always something new to learn, a problem to solve, or a situation to provide value to.

These 6 musts give us a framework and road map to achieve any goal we set for ourselves.

Applying the 6 Musts for Success

Let’s go through an example of how you can apply the 6 musts from above to create a framework for your goals and dreams.

What is your goal?

First, what is your goal? To figure out your goal, ask yourself questions to dive deep into your wants and desires:

  • Are you looking to get a promotion at work?
  • Do you want to start a business or blog?
  • Do you want to lose weight?
  • Are you looking to save money and become financially well off?

What exactly do you want? Answer these questions for absolute clarity (Must #1).

What is your Why?

Next, why do you want your goal?

If your goal is to lose weight, is it because you want to be healthy? Do you want to look better for dating purposes? Are you looking for more energy?

If you are looking to increase your income, why do you want to do this? Is it to spend more on your family? Do you want to go on more vacations?

What’s your why? Your why and your reasons will bring you motivation and confidence (Must #2).

Who will Help You on Your Journey to 6 Figures?

Who is keeping you accountable? Who is helping you on your journey?

Ask other people who are more successful for tips. You don’t want to make the same mistakes other people have made, so look to add some mentors to your life (Must #3).  These mentors could be found online, (a virtual coach, a podcast host you love, or YouTube influencer), or in person.

Consistent Efforts WILL Result in Massive Success

Consistency is the key to success over time. No one can accomplish their goal in 1 day. No one is an overnight success.

To achieve your goals, each and every day, remind yourself of your goal. Staying consistent will keep the momentum going and growth continual (Must #4).

Remember, 1 hour a day for 180 days is 180 hours. Skip 1 day, and you’ll have to put in 2 the next. Skip a week, and you have to play catch-up over next week.

Take action today and get a little closer to your goals!

Creating Habits Which Will Naturally Bring Success

After you establish consistent habits, ensure what you are doing is resulting in results (Must #5).

Ask yourself, “Which of my actions are bringing me the most success?”

Going into your project, you can plan and plan and plan, but some things will inevitably not go as foreseen.

The ability to be flexible and handle these problems in a proper way will be predicated on your established habits. If you have the proper habits of success in place, you will be able to navigate any situation and stay on track.

Never Stop Learning and Growing

Finally, never stop learning (Must #6).

Read books, read lots of books.

Talk to your mentors, meet like-minded individuals.

Get out and have experiences. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”!

With this attitude, you will go very far in life.

By applying these 6 musts, you will be on your way to accomplishing your goals and achieving your dreams.

“If you aren’t showing up to be better than you were yesterday you will not last in real business.” – John D. Rockefeller

Takeaways from 6 Months to 6 Figures

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

My main takeaway from 6 Months to 6 Figures is how important habits are for success.

You don’t become successful over night. Instead, you become successful over time because you become the person who naturally will be successful.

By setting goals, living intentionally, and establishing the habits of learning, networking, and action taking, you’ll be on your way to achieving your dreams.

Another big takeaway is the important of your network. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. This applies in all areas of life: wealth, relationships, career, political views, and health.

If you are looking to become healthy, it probably doesn’t make sense to hang out with people who go to the bar every weekend and get blackout drunk!

Choosing your friends wisely will be critical to your success.

“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” – Richard Trendi

Our Recommendation for 6 Months to Figures

6 Months to 6 Figures is a quick, no-nonsense book with many actionable steps and quotes from various leaders of the self development world.

6 Months to 6 Figures is one of the best self development books I’ve read.

I’d highly recommend it for you to read if you are looking for books to read for success. Another self development book I’ve read which I love is The Slight Edge, but The Slight Edge has a little more fluff.

Life is made up of small decisions, and through each of these small decisions, you can either be making the right choices or wrong choices. By making the right decisions daily and forming productive habits, you can go a long way!

Through applying the 6 musts learned in 6 Months to 6 Figures, you’ll be on your way to increasing your value and building an amazing foundation of habits for the life you want and deserve.

What habits are you looking to implement in your life? Is there an aspect of your life you are looking to improve? What’s holding you back if there is something?

influence the psychology of persuasion

How are some sales people able to persuade people to buy their product? How do certain sales people seem to be able to influence potential customers towards a sale? Is there a science to their sales methods? Are there principles of persuasion which you should be aware of to combat these methods?

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini, is an incredible book all about how to influence, persuade and the principles of persuasion.

Dr. Robert Cialdini is the psychology expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion.

His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

Influence explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings.

Through Dr. Cialdini’s extensive research, he has identified the 6 key principles of persuasion, and shares them with us in this fantastic book.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, takeaways from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Have you walked into a store, chatted with a sales manager, made a purchase, and then regretted the purchase upon driving home?

Have you ever received a sales phone call, and then produced to purchase whatever junk the salesman was making?

What about donated to a cause you didn’t actually believe in, but were sold on through your conversation with the volunteer?

Enter Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and the 6 principles of persuasion.

How to Influence and The 6 Principles of Persuasion

Influence is all about human psychology and how we, as humans, can be persuaded to do different things based on different stimuli and information.

In Influence, Dr. Cialdini argues there are six universal principles of persuasion:

  1. reciprocity
  2. scarcity
  3. liking
  4. authority
  5. social proof
  6. commitment/consistency

These principles are so powerful that they generate substantial change in a wide range of circumstances. Some of these principles you are probably aware of, while other principles of persuasion you might be learning for the first time.

Now, let’s go deeper into each of the 6 universal principles of persuasion I listed above.

The Principle of Persuasion of Reciprocity

psychology of persuasion principlesThe first universal principle of persuasion is reciprocity. 

People are more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first.

The rule of reciprocity is essentially, I do something for you, and in return, you do something for me.

If you receive a gift, a service or a favor from someone else, then you are more likely to give something back to that person.

Humans naturally hate being in debt to someone else, and so even a small gift or favor can lead to larger reciprocation.

For example, according to the American Disabled Veterans organization, mailing out a simple appeal for donations produces an 18% success rate; but, enclosing a small gift (personalized address labels) boosts the success rate to 35%.

Give and you shall receive! That’s the power of reciprocity.

Another way reciprocation works to persuade is when companies offer you a service or product at a higher price, but then follow up with a lower price.

By making this concession, it seems like they are doing you a favor!

The Principle of Persuasion of Scarcity

The second universal principle of persuasion is scarcity.

People want more of the things that they can have less of.

Grandma’s cookies come to mind – growing up, I could only have 2 cookies after dinner, but I always wanted more!

People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability.

Even information that is scarce is more effective. How many advertisements have you seen where the commentator says, “For a limited time, act now!”?

A beef importer in the US informed his customers (honestly) that, because of weather conditions in Australia, there was likely to be a shortage of Australian beef.

His orders more than doubled. However, when he added (also honestly) that this information came from his company’s exclusive contacts in the Australian National Weather Service, orders increased by 600%!

Many businesses will use sales to make it appear as though something is scarce. Now that you know about this principle of persuasion, you’ll want to be on the look out for it!

The Principle to Persuasion of Liking

The third universal principle of persuasion is liking.

People prefer to say yes to those they know and like. You are much more likely to help your friends and family than a stranger on the street.

In one example, research done on Tupperware Home Demonstration parties shows that guests are 3 times more likely to purchase products because they like the party’s hostess than because they like the products.”

If you are looking to persuade someone, becoming that person’s friend and ally is definitely a good strategy.

Through asking good questions, learning about the other person, identifying what problems that person is trying to solve, and by looking to be of value, you can get the other person on your side.

Friends like doing things their friends are doing, and by becoming familiar to the other people you are interacting with, you can tap into the principle of liking.

The Principle of Persuasion of Authority

The fourth universal principle of persuasion is authority.

This principle of persuasion is pretty straightforward and something we usually learn early on.

The principle of authority is that the greater the perceived authority of the person, the more likely you are to comply with their demands and comments.

People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise. These authorities include doctors, lawyers, businesspersons, police officers, etc.

We generally trust people with credentials and a lot of education.

One study showed that 3 times as many pedestrians were willing to follow a man into traffic against the red light when he was merely dressed as an authority in a business suit and tie.

Authority is very powerful and should be used carefully.

You will see this a lot on mainstream news where “experts” come out and give their opinions on certain topics.

It’s important to think critically for yourself when these situations occur.

The Principle to Persuasion of Social Proof

The fifth universal principle of persuasion is social proof.

People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it.

One researcher went door to door collecting for charity and carrying a list of others in the area who had already contributed. The longer the list, the more contributions it produced.

Another example is bartenders who will stuff the tip jar to make it seem like they already have received a lot of tips during the night.

That’s the power of social proof as a tool for persuasion.

Another example of social proof is letters of recommendations. If you are being recommended by others, then it is usually a sign you are competent and ready to get the job at hand done.

The Principle to Persuasion of Commitment/Consistency

The sixth universal principle of persuasion is commitment/consistency.

Naturally, humans do not like to contradict themselves because consistency is a socially attractive trait.

It looks bad if you say you are all about health, but you eat a horrible diet and don’t exercise.

Likewise, it is admirable if you say you are all about health, and lead an active and healthy life.

People are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing or recent commitment. “You are a nature loving person and our conscious about your health. Would you like to try some organic food that was made without harming the Earth?”

Consider how small that commitment can be and still motivate change forcefully: Gordon Sinclair, a Chicago restaurant owner, was beset by the problem of no-shows—people who made table reservations but failed to appear and failed to call to cancel.

He reduced the problem by first getting a small commitment. He instructed his receptionists to stop saying, “Please call if you change your plans” and to start saying, Will you call us if you change your plans?”

The no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10% immediately.

That’s the power of commitment as a way to persuade.

Takeaways from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is the power of words.

By changing how you say certain statements and ask certain questions, you can guide a situation towards the result you want.

Everyday, we are bombarded by sales ploys and deceitful techniques. There are many people out there who are trying to make a quick buck.

Now that I’ve learned about these six principles of persuasions, I will be able to have a better handle on my thinking and decision making going forward.

Through understanding these different techniques of persuasion, we can do a better job of avoiding some of these sales traps and psychology tricks.

Our Recommendation for Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion will help you gain a better understanding of the human mind and human behavior.

If you are in sales, or deal with clients on a regular basis, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must read!

Even as a consumer, or as someone interested in psychology, Influence is a fantastic book. Influence will open your eyes to some of the tricks and techniques of big corporations and sales companies.

By reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, you will learn the principles of Influence and the principles of persuasion.

After reading, you’ll learn how to become a skilled persuader and also learn how to defend yourself from people who want to persuade you!


Why do we do the things we do when under pressure? Are split-second decisions natural, or can we train our minds to change our biases and reactions to stress?

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell, looks at thought processes when making decisions; in particular, our thought processes when making split second decisions.

When we make split-second decisions, we are really vulnerable to being guided by our stereotypes and prejudices, even ones we may not necessarily endorse or believe.

By understanding how these split-second decisions are made, from a psychological perspective, we can better understand the human psyche and come up with ways to better navigate some of these tough situations.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Blink, takeaways from Blink, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of Blink

How good people’s decisions are under the fast-moving, high-stress conditions of rapid cognition is a function of training and rules and rehearsal.

You are out for a walk in the park at night. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a man walking.

In a split second, you have already made up your mind; he is out to get you and is not your friend.

Your heart starts racing, your pace picks up, you tense up.

What happened in that split second? Why did you make a quick judgement on that man?

Blink is all about examining situations like this, and getting to the root cause of the thoughts during these moments.

In Blink, Gladwell talks about the following three points:

  • Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
  • When should we trust our instincts, and when should we be vary of them?
  • Snap judgments and first impressions can be controlled and educated.

Gladwell goes through various situations to discuss the concept of “thin-slicing”, making judgments based on a very small amount of information.

He talks about situations involving psychologists trying to determine if a marriage will end in divorce, outcomes of police and criminal encounters, emotion recognition, and war situations.

Let’s go into each of the three points listed above in more detail now.

Quick Decisions Can Sometimes Be Better than Thought Out Decisions

On straightforward decisions, deliberate analysis is best. On complex decisions, our unconscious thought processes may be superior.

Throughout the book, Gladwell discusses the concept of “thin-slicing”, or the unconscious mind’s ability to find patterns and meaning in the most fleeting “slices” of experience and impressions.

One interesting discussion from Blink is how quick decisions can sometimes be better than well thought out decisions.

Many times when we grow up as kids, we are told to think critically and logically.

However, thinking hard about a situation will not always lead to the desired result. Sometimes, going with a gut feeling is the right way to go for a tough decision.

When We Should Trust Our Instincts

Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.

Analysis paralysis is a real detriment to a lot of people’s daily lives. Sometimes the best decisions are made with instinct and trusting that our guts are right.

An interesting rule of thumb is that making decisions should occur when you have between 40% and 70% of the relevant information on a situation.

You don’t need all of the information to make a decision, and sometimes your best guess will actually be the best!

Snap Judgments Can be Controlled and Educated

Prejudging is the kiss of death. You have to give everyone your best shot.

Unfortunately, in a high stress environment, a person’s ability to read a situation will decline rapidly.

One example covered in Blink is the situation of a police officer shooting an unarmed man just because the man is holding a black leather wallet.

Since the police officer is under stress, and cannot fully understand the situation, they sometimes will make the wrong gut call.

However, operating under stress can be controlled through taking a walk, breathing long and deep breathes, and relaxing before going back into the heat of the moment.

Takeaways from Blink

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

One of the main points in Blink is we only need a little bit of information to make wise decisions if we can determine what is the right information.

For example, professional face readers can tell if you are lying just by looking at particular muscles and parts of your face. They don’t need to look at your whole face to get what’s going on.

The takeaway is if we can identify the key parts to a problem and make it simple, we can do a lot more with a little.

For example, personal finance is fairly complex. There are many different personal finance terms and concepts, and it can get confusing.

However, personal finance success is simple if you stick to the personal finance basics:

  • pay yourself first
  • save
  • invest periodically (dollar cost averaging)
  • don’t take on too much debt

It’s about finding and doing the simple things which will lead to a successful result.

By thinking critically and learning about what is crucial for success, and sifting through the noise, you can figure out what matters for you and your life.

There are many complex problems which can be reduced to simpler elements. Even in the most complicated of relationships and problems, there is a clear and identifiable pattern.

Our Recommendation for Blink

We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that – sometimes – we’re better off that way.

Blink is an enjoyable read, and a relatively quick read.

The main takeaways from Blink is humans are very vulnerable to our stereotypes and prejudices. We are also capable of making smart decisions with practice, rules, and repetition. Also, not everything needs to be explained. There are things we like because we like them and things we don’t like because we don’t like them.

Blink would be a fantastic book for you if you are interested in learning more about human’s thinking processes or decision making.

Readers: Do you ever catch yourself thinking, why did I make that split second decision? 

retire early real estate

How would it feel to be financially free? What would you with your time if money wasn’t a restriction? Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to work? What if I told you it was possible to become financially free, and to be able to retire early with real estate?

Retire Early with Real Estate, by Chad Carson, is all about how you can use real estate investing to retire early. While it might seem tough, it is very possible to become financially independent with real estate in 10-15 years with the right purchases and effort.

Chad Carson has been investing in real estate for the last 15 years. He has become financially independent through his work. As a result from his efforts and risk taking in real estate, he has created a life which allows him not to work anymore in his late 30s.

Investing in real estate isn’t for everyone. However, if you are looking to build wealth passively and in a tax efficient way, you must consider investing in real estate.

Below is a book summary of Retire Early with Real Estate, takeaways from Retire Early with Real Estate, and a reading recommendation for you.

Retire Early with Real Estate Summary

Retire Early with Real Estate is all about using real estate to become financially free.

Financial independence is possible with real estate, but there are some important things to think about before buying rentals:

  • What’s your why?
    • Do you want to spend more time with your friends, kids, family, etc.?
    • Do you want to travel?
    • Are you looking to have flexibility in work?
  • What is the level of spending you want in retirement?
  • How much work do you want to do in your real estate business?

Pursuing wealth for the sake of money won’t lead to happiness. However, with a why and driving force, you can uncover many options.

The Power of Real Estate When Compared to Other Investments

After understanding your why and goals, now it’s time to learn about why real estate is such a powerful asset class.

In Retire Early with Real Estate, real estate is the IDEAL asset class to use for building wealth. IDEAL stands for:

  • Income
    • Each month, your tenants pay you rent, and you can use this to improve your property, pay down debt, spend on things you want, or save up for another property
  • Depreciation
    • The tax code is favorable towards rental properties, and allows different pieces of your properties to be depreciated over time – leading to a lower tax rate.
  • Equity
    • As you pay down your mortgage, or make improvements, you are build equity in the house.
  • Appreciation
    • Over time, real estate has gone up in value.
  • Leverage
    • With real estate, you can use debt to finance your acquisitions and own a property with only a percentage of the total cost.

With these 5 different amazing benefits from real estate, you can grow your wealth over time.

Different Strategies for Investing in Real Estate

After discussing the benefits of real estate, Retire Early with Real Estate gets into the different strategies for investing in real estate.

These real estate investing strategies include:

  • House hacking
    • House hacking is a great way to start off real estate investing. With house hacking, you live in the property and rent out your spare space, rooms and units to reduce your housing expense.
  • Live-in-then-rent
    • Buying a property, and then moving out and renting it out can be another great way to get into real estate investing. By occupying the property up front, you can make repairs and get better financing for the future.
  • Live-in-then-flip
    • Buying a property, fixing it up, and selling for a profit is a way real estate investors can generate income.
    • BRRRR stands for Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, and Repeat. By doing BRRRR, you look to buy rentals which need work, and through the rehab, you can refinance to get your cash out.

Each of these real estate investing methods has their advantages and disadvantages. Some of these strategies may be for you, and others may not be for you.

Building Your Real Estate Portfolio

After you’ve decided on your real estate investment strategy, now it’s time to build your real estate portfolio.

In Retire Early with Real Estate, there are a few different ways you can go to build your real estate portfolio:

  • Pay Cash 
    • If you are debt adverse, you can pay cash for rentals to own them without a mortgage and maximize cash flow from the start.
  • Use Leverage
    • If you aren’t afraid of debt, you can use mortgages to buy properties quicker, but this will cut in the cash flow.
  • Buy and Hold
    • If you are happy with your purchases, you can hold them and collect monthly rent checks forever.
    • Over time, you may want to pay the mortgages off using the debt snowball method, or by selling off bad properties and using the proceeds to pay off the other mortgages.
  • Trade Up Over Time
    • The tax code in the United States allows real estate owners to trade up over time in a tax free manner through something called a 1031 Exchange. Over time, as properties appreciate, you could “trade up” for bigger and better properties to generate more cash flow over time.

Advanced Retirement Account Usage for Real Estate

One of the interesting sections from Retire Early with Real Estate is the last section on advanced retirement account usage.

It is possible and sometimes a great strategy to invest in real estate through retirement accounts.

As you reach retirement (whether at a traditional age or an early retirement), you will need to think about how you are withdrawing from your accounts and getting income from your properties.

Retire Early with Real Estate talks in-depth about these different retirement account strategies – something I haven’t seen before all in one place.

Takeaways from Retire Early with Real Estate

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

I have a goal to build extreme wealth at a young age. Since this is my goal, then I should consider investing in real estate and buying rental properties.

I’ve house hacked for the past few years, but after seeing the potential of buying properties for below market value, making repairs, and renting them out, there can be some amazing results.

What was awesome about Retire Early with Real Estate were the simple examples of the various real estate investing strategies, and how attainable they seemed over 5, 10 or 15 years.

While it might be tough to buy and own a rental property without a mortgage, over 5, 10 and 15 years of saving, collecting rents, and paying down debt, you can get there.

Real estate is a powerful investment class. With the right strategies and information, you can use real estate to build wealth.

Retire Early with Real Estate provides this information. With inspiring stories and tips, Retire Early with Real Estate made me want to go buy some real estate after putting down the book.

Our Recommendation for Retire Early with Real Estate

Retire Early with Real Estate is a comprehensive book for prospective real estate investors. With real estate investing strategies, motivational passages to build wealth, and advanced retirement topics, Retire Early with Real Estate is a great resource.

Building wealth through real estate can be a lot of work. However, real estate is powerful, and at the end of the day, you will own assets which produce monthly cash flow.

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor is another amazing book at getting into the details of real estate investing. However, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor didn’t have any emphasis on retirement and the strategies involved when drawing on your investments later in life.

If you are interested in real estate investing, financial freedom, or building wealth, you should definitely check out Retire Early with Real Estate.

Readers: are you interested in real estate investing? Are you a real estate investor currently? What are your thoughts on becoming financially free?

fed up book review


For the past few months, I’ve been trying to challenge myself on my investing strategy and understanding of economics, the markets, and personal finance.

There are many players in the markets:  commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, central banks, insurance companies, retail investors, pensions, and the list goes on and on.

One of these entities is not very well understood: the central banks. In the United States, the Federal Reserve is the central bank and is an institution which many people have no idea about.

On my pursuit of the truth and looking to learn more and more about finance, I came across the book, Fed Up, by Danielle DiMartino Booth.

I thought it was very interesting and helped me understand more about the thought processes and events which took place in the 2000s leading up to 2008, and after 2008.

Many people think that during the next crash that central banks and governments will come to the rescue, but Fed Up reveals why this thought is too optimistic.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Fed Up, my takeaways, and my recommendation for you. Enjoy!

Summary of Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America

For the past 30 years, the narrative of the global economy has been precisely this when a crash occurs:

Central banks and governments are here to save the day and will do whatever it takes to save the markets . (Even if that means doing ridiculous things.)

Going back less than 20 years gives us two amazing examples of this absurd narrative.

2001, the dotcom bubble burst. The Nasdaq lost nearly 80% of it’s value in a very short amount of time and central banks stepped in to make sure the economy was safe.

In 2001, the Fed Funds Rate (the rate at which banks borrow at), was dropped from roughly 6% to 1%.

The economy was saved! Stocks were back on track!

Fast forward to 2008, and another crash in the markets has occurred.

Again, central banks stepped in and the fed funds rate at the time was dropped from roughly 5% to 0%. In addition, 4.5 trillion dollars were pumped into the system (where before, only $850 billion had been created up until that point!)

10 years later, we sit here in 2018 with the markets seemingly doing amazing. Up 300% since 2008, the day has been saved again.

But sitting here, I can’t help but look back on some of those numbers and feel a little uneasy. Why should you get money for free? Does it make sense to inflate the money supply by 4 times what it previously was before? What are the consequences of these things?

Enter Fed Up.

The Federal Reserve During and After the Recession from the Eye’s of an Insider

Danielle DiMartino Booth worked on Wall Street in the late 90’s and early 00’s, and after a career change to journalism, she found herself in the Dallas Federal Reserve Research Department.

After spending some time on Wall Street, becoming wise to the ways of finance, she then went on to pursue a career in journalism at the Dallas Morning News. As a truth seeker, her insight and warnings in the years preceding the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 were well-documented and stand in stark contrast to the mindset of the Fed and then-chairman Ben Bernanke who “found little evidence to support the existence of a national home price bubble.

In 2006, she joined the Dallas Fed and worked with individuals there to try to steer the economy in the right direction.

Unfortunately, their efforts didn’t work out. With only an MBA, many economics PhD’s across the central banking system of the United States ignored many of the warning signs presented by DiMartino Booth and didn’t take her seriously.

Throughout the book, she highlights the arrogance and hubris that these academics-turned-central bankers possessed and the control they garnered. Rather than diving in the real-time market data, discussions with business owners, and market talk, economists believed their textbooks, unproven assumptions theories, and complex research papers provided new sophistication and certainty with which to manage the domestic and, indeed, the global economy.

Unfortunately, this didn’t help, as many people experienced after 2008.

An Eye-Opening Take on the Happenings of 2008

What DiMartino Booth describes in Fed Up is years of central bank evolution and growth.

The central bank has been influenced by John Maynard Keynes and nurtured by Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and Janet Yellen. The reality, as so well described by DiMartino Booth, is that of an intellectual contagion.

The role the Federal Reserve has assumed today is more like a world superpower than bank. After multiple global financial crises over the past 30 years, the Federal Reserve’s influence and power has adapted and spread to cover all of the developed financial world.

While this book may be a little alarming to you and slightly “alternative in thought”, DiMartino Booth accomplishes what may be a meaningful step in properly examining what’s wrong with our financial system.

Fed Up provides a post-crisis update of how the Federal Reserve runs the country, and provides us with substantial evidence of how short-cuts and manipulations are employed as a means to their ends.

While the Federal Reserve is probably a necessary institution to have in our government, there needs to be a change.

An Insider’s Recommendation for the Federal Reserve

While the book was fantastic at telling the story of the financial meltdown of 2007-2009, the lead up to that meltdown and the aftermath, what I really liked is how the author finished the book with a recommendation for how the Federal Reserve should be changed.

The gist of her recommendations were to change the dual mandate to a single mandate, shake up the staff to include more business people, and foster an environment of real economic growth (not one stimulated by 0 percent interest rates).

Going a little bit more into the details, the author recommends the following:

  • Remove the dual mandate of maximizing unemployment and achieving a specific “inflation” target, and instead, have a single mandate tasked with keeping prices stable. 
  • Be more transparent in communications with Wall Street, Main Street, and other governments
  • Have the Fed get out of the business of trying to force people to spend money. The Fed’s “inflation” comes from debt fueled spending – a bubble waiting to happen – and this just isn’t right or sustainable.
  • Slash the research department and send many economics PhD’s who want to pursue fringe topics of research to academia. Hire individuals with real business and “Main Street” experience to hopefully do what’s best for the economy.
  • Hire smart people for the Supervisory and Regulatory department, and pay them well. 
  • Finally, focus on the big picture and also smaller risks. Focus on systemic risk and regulation. Everything is connected in some shape or form!

With these recommendations, she believes the Federal Reserve can fulfill the role it was created to fulfill – not be a superpower with arguably more power than Congress.

My Takeaways

With all things I do, I look to have some takeaways for me to go and apply in my life.

In the past few years, I had a vague understanding of the how the Federal Reserve worked, but at the same time, really had no idea.

First, I have a view on the world which is completely different than yours – and I recognize this. I’m 26, was in high school in 2008, and honestly, wasn’t paying attention back then. Fast forward 10 years, I’m making a great salary and am living a “middle class” lifestyle – 1 week long vacation a year with a few mini vacations spread out on weekends, live in a fairly nice house, have a car, and can get by financially without too much stress.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have this same experience here in 2018. On average, wages haven’t grown since the 80’s. The participation rate for workers in the United States is only 62.9% – down from 66% in 2008. The stock market is soaring, but only 56% of people are invested in stocks.

Is the economy actually doing well? Or have these wonky monetary policies put in place by the Fed distorted things to unsustainable levels and will surely fail at some point?

I don’t know. I sure don’t think I can trust the Central Bank to take care of me though…

Beware the Expert

Another takeaway I have for myself follows another one of my thoughts which I’ve come to embrace: beware the “guru” and “expert”, and if someone is a “guru” or “expert” in a topic which involves randomness, run as fast as you can the other way.

As the author wrote, Economics PhD’s take an ivory tower view of the world and don’t really know what’s going on. As a statistician in my day job, I had a ton of issues with the assumptions we were taking and it was for this exact reason above.  (That’s one reason why I’ve now moved to role doing web development – a more exact science.)

The world is so incredibly complicated that a simple set of regressions and time series models cannot capture everything. Ignoring other pieces will lead to even more error.

Honestly? I’m worried about what will happen in the next crash. Will it be more of the same or something different? I don’t know. All I can do is prepare and work on practicing sustainability, mindfulness, and resilience.

Our Recommendation for Fed Up

I’ve been trying to challenge myself on my investing strategy and understanding of economics, the markets, and personal finance. As someone who works at a regional bank, I work in a team which is reviewed by individuals from the Federal Reserve, but we never knew exactly what’s going on there.

Danielle DiMartino Booth lifts the curtain a little bit and gives us a first hand account of life in the Federal Reserve. Most books about finance are very technical, but Danielle does an amazing job of distilling the topics into everyday speak. I only found myself re-reading one or two paragraphs in the entire book!

I’d highly recommend Fed Up for anyone who is an investor or a student of personal finance. Many people think that during the next crash that central banks and governments will come to the rescue. Honestly? If you seriously believe that the government is going to act in the best interests of the average consumer, you are a little bit too optimistic.

Fed Up reveals why this thought is too optimistic, and gives an amazing view into inner workings of the mystic Federal Reserve. Check this one out at the library or get it on Amazon. I don’t think you’ll regret reading about something which affects you and everyone else around you.

The Everything Store

Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon, recently hit $80 billion for his personal net worth. As a student of entrepreneurship and personal finance, I’m awestruck by his success with his entrepreneurial pursuits and want to understand his thought processes. Bezos requires many of his employees to read books off his reading list. My reasoning is, if I’m looking to think like one of the richest humans on earth, I should consume the same information as him. First though, I needed to learn more about Bezos and his company – enter the book, The Everything Store.

The Everything Store, by Brad Stone, looks to uncover the history of Amazon. Stone interviewed over 300 people – former and current employees, and other executives from the industry, to get an understanding of the last 20 years at Amazon. The results are very interesting and I couldn’t put the book down!

In this post, I give a brief summary of The Everything Store, my takeaways, and my recommendation for you.

Summary of The Everything Store

Brad Stone interviewed over 300 people, current and former Amazon employees, and Bezos family members, and provides us an in-depth look into life at Amazon. Jeff Bezos wanted Amazon to become the everything store: a store which would offer everything at a great convenience to the customer. In his pursuit of the everything store, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition, little work/life balance, and success at the highest level.

The Early Years

The Everything Store goes into the beginning of Amazon, where it was just Bezos and a handful of employees working out of a garage in Seattle. At first (mid 1990’s), Amazon was just a bookseller and was literally buying books from various publishers and then sending them out whenever a customer purchased one off their website. This process was clunky and needed refining.

Over the next few years, distribution centers were set up and the website became better equipped to handle the customer orders.

Expanding into Different Product Categories

Jeff Bezos didn’t want to stop at being the best bookseller – he wanted Amazon to be an everything store. By the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s, Amazon ventured into different product categories. Starting with movies and electronics, then getting into toys. Over time, if Amazon wanted to get into another product category it wasn’t already in, it would look to buy a successful company in that space.

For example, Zappos was a very successful shoe company in the mid 2000’s and Amazon wanted to start selling shoes. Amazon offered to buy Zappos, but Zappos executives declined. Amazon then applied a tenacious tactic – they started selling shoes and dropped the prices extremely low. By cutting prices, this put tremendous pressure on Zappos. Finally, Zappos agreed to sell, and Amazon was able to expand into the shoe industry. This strategy was performed multiple times over Amazon’s history and shows how tenacious they were and are.

The Everything Store also details the battles of Amazon and many other retail companies: Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

Diversification of Income Streams

In the early 2000’s, Amazon started focusing more on technology – both surrounding supply-chain management and the distribution of goods, but also on software and infrastructure. Amazon created Amazon Web Services (AWS), which allowed all businesses to tap into the power of cloud computing. This was a game changer for Amazon and now is a huge income stream.

In addition to the software and infrastructure, Amazon created the Kindle in 2007. E-readers were experimented with in the early 2000’s, but flopped after the hardware was not good enough for mass production. Amazon created a superior product and had a massive launch for its e-reader, the Kindle. By producing and selling Kindles, Amazon strengthened itself as a major player in both physical and digital books.

The Culture of Amazon

The culture of Amazon is modeled after Jeff Bezos’ style: never give up, be frugal, be resourceful, always look to serve the customer, and be consistent. Many employees have left Amazon because the work/life balance was horrible. Jeff Bezos doesn’t care much for work/life balance; he wants to create something great and will not stop at any cost to do so!

Former Employees and Family Members Chime In on The Everything Store

When I was preparing to write this book review, I read the customer reviews on the Amazon page for The Everything Store. There were multiple reviews from different executives and key players in the book.

Mackenzie Bezos, Jeff’s Wife, chimed in and said there were many inaccuracies. She gave it a 1 star rating.

While numerous factual inaccuracies are certainly troubling in a book being promoted to readers as a meticulously researched definitive history, they are not the biggest problem here. The book is also full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction, and the result is a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon. An author writing about any large organization will encounter people who recall moments of tension out of tens of thousands of hours of meetings and characterize them in their own way, and including those is legitimate.

Employee #1, Shel Kaplan sang a different song. He gave it a 4 star rating.

Since Mr. Stone did not have access to Jeff Bezos for this book, but had to rely on previous interviews and the accounts of others, it would be surprising if there weren’t a few mistakes regarding his thought processes. As part of my agreement to be interviewed for this book, I was allowed to read a draft of the chapter which covered the time I was there, and I offered a number of corrections, some of which Mr. Stone was able to verify and incorporate. To the extent I am quoted, my quotes are, while not complete, fair and in context. I don’t love or agree with everything that Mr. Stone wrote about me — especially his broader conclusions regarding the circumstances of my departure from the company — but I do think it was fair and reasonable.

Being a writer myself, I can understand why Brad Stone would stretch the truth a little bit for a more enjoyable read. Hopefully in the future, Bezos will allow himself to be interviewed and give a real, unadulterated glimpse into his thoughts and career. If you pick this book up, just be aware of these criticisms.

My Takeaways

With all books I read, I look to have takeaways and action steps. Jeff Bezos is someone I look up to as a role model in business, but also in my personal life. He has been married to the same woman for many years, saves his money, and looks to make the world a better place. In addition, he is tenacious and always looking to help – all qualities I’m looking to embody in my life.

In my business pursuits, I’m looking to provide value to my readers and customers, and make sure that the experience is enjoyable for all parties.

Amazon’s Take on Frugality

Amazon is constantly searching for ways to reduce costs and pass on those savings to customers in the form of lower prices. This is embedded in their leadership principles:


We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size or fixed expense.

This principle comes from Bezos himself. Frugality is something I look to apply in my life, and as a personal finance blogger, it’s equally important to note that it’s not what you make, but what you save! I personally love the wording of the principle above, what do you think?

Our Recommendation for The Everything Store

I really enjoyed The Everything Store. Frankly, my review doesn’t give the book enough credit – the details the author goes into are at a very low level (he talks about legal battles and those outcomes!) While some of the key players working for Amazon have came out and said there are some inaccuracies in the book, I still believe it was worth the read. The Everything Store gives us a behind the scenes look at the making of the behemoth now known as Amazon, and a picture of Jeff Bezos’ management style.

For me, I’m going to constantly focus to provide value to the customer (you the reader), be frugal and careful with my funds, and work diligently each and every day towards my goals. I’m excited to read the books off Bezos’ reading list! Look forward to those in the coming months!

Would you ever open an online store? Are you a member of Amazon?Save



For One More Day

What if you only had one more day with a loved one? Would you do anything different than what are you are doing today?  For One More Day is the story of a mother and son, and about a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

For One More Day, by Mitch Albom, explores the following question: what would you do if you could spend one more day with a loved one?

If you only had one more day to spend and have fun with a loved one, how would the day look?

For One More Day is a story about a man who becomes unconscious and “lives” a day with his passed away mom.

In this post, I share with you a book summary of For One More Day, takeaways from For One More Day, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of For One More Day

At the beginning of For One More Day, we meet Charley “Chick” Benetto: a former baseball player turned salesman and an alcoholic shunned by his wife and daughter.

Chick is tormented by his past decisions surrounding his early adulthood and his relationship with his mother and father.

Exploring Chick’s Youth

During the first few chapters of For One More Day, we are introduced to Chick and learn more about his youth.

When Chick was about 5 years old, his father told him, “You can be a momma’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.” Chick decided to be a daddy’s boy, and this decision turned out to be the wrong one.

His father and mother become divorced when he was about 10 years old. Through the rest of his childhood, his mother protects him and looks to steer him down the right path.

For One More Day is the story of the missed opportunities Chick had during his youth, and the consequences of not being there for his loved ones.

Chick Tries to “End it where it started”

After learning about Chick’s past, we are brought back to the present day.

Chick’s daughter is getting married, and Chick is fed up. He is sick of his unfulfilling work, and when he finds out his own daughter didn’t invite him to her wedding, he gets even more depressed.

Upset and sad, Chick decides there is no point of living anymore and will drive to his hometown to “end it where it started.”

After getting drunk, Chick hops in his car to drive back to his hometown. He is almost to his hometown and misses the exit. It is late at night, and frankly, Chick doesn’t care about his life. He does a 180 and starts driving the wrong way – right into a semi-truck. Chick is ejected from his vehicle, he hits the wet grass and goes unconscious.

At this moment, he starts his last day with his mother (who passed away 8 years ago).

A Last Day with Mom

When Chick becomes unconscious, his thoughts take him to his childhood house. There, he sees his mother.

His mother cooks him up some breakfast and is cheerful as ever.

“Posey” Benetto is a social magnet, a darling, and always looking to help out. Early in life, she grinded to make ends meet and was loved by many. Given Chick’s decisions in childhood, it is sad he didn’t show respect to such an amazing woman.

Sometimes, when someone is given the world, they might not realize how good they have it until it’s gone.

Throughout the rest of For One Last Day, we learn more about Chick’s childhood, his relationship with his mother and father, and the actions he took in adulthood which lead him down a rough path.

During his dream, his mom takes him along with her to visit some friends who are dying. While she has been passed away for 8 years, she says she is still alive through other people’s memories.

Chick Wakes Up and Changes his Ways

After seeing others dying, seeing a different perspective, and learning more about his family, Chick becomes remorseful and decides to change his ways.

At the end of the book, he wakes up in the arms of a police officer and swears off drinking.

After recovering from his car crash bumps and bruises, he gets back in touch with his daughter and wife, and becomes a great contributor to society.

For One More Day is an inspiring story which shows that it’s possible to change your life for the better if you so choose.

Takeaways from For One More Day

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from For One More Day was that life is short and spending time with the people who matter most to you is so important.

Last Easter, I was with my sisters, parents, grandparents, and my 93-year old great-grandpa.

I love my family – they are fun loving, nice, and supportive of my life. We went to church, did an indoor and outdoor Easter egg hunt, ate lunch, and played badminton and basketball outside throughout the day.

The one thing that stuck in my mind was saying good bye to my great-grandpa. I hugged him good bye and he grabbed my hand.

I could see the sadness in his eyes, almost to say to me, “I wish I was your age again.” Being 93, it’s unfortunate, but his days are numbered.

After reading For One More Day and interacting with my great-grandpa, I’m trying not waste days doing things I don’t want to do.

It’s easy to say things like, “Life is short, don’t waste any of your days”. But, how many people actually implement this thought and live intentionally?

With loved ones, it’s important to set time aside and look to make an effort to spend time with them.

Our Recommendation for For One More Day

In For One More Day, Mitch Albom turns a story of a broken man trying to commit suicide into a beautiful tale examining the mother-son relationship.

Mitch Albom is a fantastic storyteller and writer. For One More Day has influenced my thoughts and actions to not waste time on Earth.

I was reminded it’s important to work on cultivating relationships with people closest to you, no matter what. Family is #1 – your parents, grandparents, kids, and siblings are some of the only people who will be with you throughout your entire life.

For One More Day is a must-read for everyone.

What would you do if you had one more day with a lost loved one? 

How to Become a Better Learner

Becoming better at learning, aka learning to become a better learner, is a skill you can improve and grow. Learning about learning isn’t some silly endeavor, but can be a fantastic strategy for getting to your goals faster.

Do you want to reach your goals faster? What if you could unlock a more efficient way to be successful? What would it feel like if you could be proficient in anything you try?

Learning how to become a better learner, and leaning how to become better at learning is possible with the right framework.

In this post, you will learn how to become a better learner.

Learning How to Become Better at Learning

Can you actually become better at learning?

It sounds bizarre, but there’s actually a science to becoming a better learner.

Why should you care about learning how to become a better learner?

I’ll give an example from something I’m doing at my 9 to 5: learning web development.

When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing.

HTML? CSS? What are these things? And they work together in some magical way?

Slowly, but surely, over the last year, I’ve learned how to build the front-end of a website. Now, at work, I’m learning React JS and putting that into practice. Since I already knew some Javascript, and the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, learning React has been a little easier to pick up, but there’s still so much to learn.

What if I could speed this process up 10%? What about 100% faster? Wouldn’t this be nice?

That’s why learning how to learn is important: you can speed up your time to proficiency, and get to doing great work (instead of banging your head against the wall and struggling to continue to figure out what’s important and what’s not important).

Before doing ANYTHING in life, it’s important to define a few things and set expectations.

What is your end goal? Knowing your end goal will help with the next steps in learning, which is why it’s critical.

Let’s first talk about goals briefly, and then we will get into a framework for meta-learning and learning how to learn more effectively.

What’s Your Learning Goal?

Before starting any endeavor, it’s critical to ask yourself about what you want to accomplish.

In particular, why are you interested in learning and personal development? Why are you interested in learning about whatever topic you are interested in learning?

A few questions you should ask yourself before starting:

  • Do you want to be an expert in a certain field or topic?
  • Do you want to become a little more knowledgeable to round out your wisdom?
  • Are you looking to get a job or new role from your studying?
  • Is there a certain test or level of proficiency you are after through your actions?

Your answers should come from within – you have taken control of your life and are now on the path to success.

An example from my life is from sports. I love playing sports, and in particular, playing basketball.

One skill I’ve worked on considerably the last few years is my dribbling.

What were my goals for my dribbling?

I wanted to be able to dribble with both hands comfortably. I wanted to be able to comfortably go between both legs, around my back, and when in trouble, be able to keep the ball without it being stolen.

These were my goals for the skill of dribbling.

Figuring out your goals is step 0a before diving into learning. After finding out your what, let’s move on to step 0b: figuring out your why.

What is Your Why for Learning?

Without a why, there’s no point to doing anything.

If you don’t care about some action, then there is literally no point to doing it.

It’s critical to have a why, or you will not put full effort into your work, Without full effort, your results will be sub-par.

With a why, you can do anything.

What’s your why?

  • Do you want a better career?
  • Is it you want to increase your income?
  • Do you want to have more fun in your hobbies and unlocking a new skill will do help this?
  • Are you competitive and just want to learn to be better than your friends?
  • Do you just enjoy what you are learning and want to learn more casually?

Your why could really be anything – as long as you are aware of it, you will be on track.

Going back to my dribbling example, my why was quite simple. I wanted to be better at dribbling so I could be a reliable teammate (someone who wouldn’t lose the ball when I started moving around) and also, I wanted to be able to imitate some of my favorite players in the NBA with their moves.

With your why and goals, you are now ready to start learning and growing.

Before starting, it’s important to define what’s your end goal and why you are doing something.

Without a goal, you won’t know where you are going, and without a why, what’s the point?

Now that you have your destination in mind, and your why, let’s get into becoming better at learning.

A Strategy to Become a Better Learner

When learning about different topics, books with techniques and strategies for success can be incredibly beneficial for your progress as a person.

Recently, I read The 4-Hour Chef.

The 4-Hour Chef is a book all about learning and how to become a better learner (and at the same time, teaches you how to cook… but that’s not what we are going to focus on in this post).

In the book, Tim Ferris explains how anyone can be an expert in anything in 6 to 12 months, and if practiced effectively, even 6 to 12 weeks.

In his teens, he was a student in Japan and had to learn Japanese on the fly to perform well in school. Over the next few months, he struggled, but finally it clicked.

Instead of trying to memorize and learn the entire language at once, he figured out patterns and tricks to “unlock” the language more effectively.

After scoring at the highest level in his Japanese tests, he wanted to see if his strategy could be applied to other languages. Now, he has mastered many languages – some he learned in as little as 2 weeks!

At this point, you are probably wondering, how can you learn anything in 6 to 12 months? What’s this amazing learning strategy? What are his secrets?

Let’s get into The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy.

The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy

The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy is simple. Complexity is what trips up many people when they go to learn.

Ever heard of keep it simple stupid? K.I.S.S.?

The 4-Hour Chef learning strategy is simple as well: DiSSS.

DiSSS stands for the following:

  • Deconstruction
    • What are the smallest learnable pieces of information or tasks which you can break the learning into?
  • Selection
    • From those smallest blocks of information, which ones should you focus on? (20/80 Principle)
  • Sequencing
    • What is the correct order you should go about applying the important small blocks?
  • Stakes
    • How can ensure you follow the program? Can you set-up a system where if you don’t do the tasks you identified that there are real negative consequences?

Next, there are some advanced techniques we need to cover to give you a full strategy and framework to learn anything.

The advanced techniques are represented by the acronym CaFE:

  • Compression
    • How can you compress and condense all of the information into a cheat sheet which is simple and not complex?
  • Frequency
    • How long should you practice? What is the right time period for your studying and doing for maximum effectiveness?
  • Encoding
    • How can you make your ideas and thoughts stick for the long term? Can you represent your thoughts with images or sounds for maximum retention?

For the rest of the post, let’s go into each of these in more detail.

Deconstruct Your Goals to Figure Out Your Path

deconstructing your goals for more effective learningIn the DiSSS acronym, deconstruction is step 1.

What is deconstruction?

Essentially, deconstruction is exploration.  To deconstruct something is to dig around, get the lay of the land, and understand what there is to learn to become an expert.

After getting a feel for what is out there, the next step is to try to figure how the smallest learnable blocks which you will be learning and performing.

How can you find these blocks?

Tim Ferris recommends the 4 following methods:

  • Reducing
    • What are the common patterns, strokes, actions, etc. which make up the desired skill?
    • Figure out the mechanics of the skill, and try to break it down:
      • For example, in running, there have been countless studies on how to bring your foot up and then bring your foot down, for maximum power.
      • Without this knowledge, just going out and running probably won’t get us to our goals as fast as possible.
  • Interviewing
    • Who are the experts in the skill you want to become better at?
    • Better yet, who are the people and practitioners who aren’t just talking heads, but actually have practiced and became better over time?
    • Find out from others who have been successful – stand on the shoulders of giants!
  • Reversal
    • Have you ever heard of reverse engineering? Essentially, you go from a finished product, back to the bones.
    • This method works well with physical objects: cooking, electronics, etc.
  • Translating
    • Are there any parallels you can draw to the current task at hand from previous experience?
    • The method of translation works well with languages: both spoken, but also in programming.

Some of these methods will be better than others, so thinking critically about which one makes the most sense for you will be important.

Select the Best Actions by Applying the Pareto Principle

After figuring out what is necessary, now it’s time to apply the Pareto Principle, and select which 20% of actions are going to lead to 80% of the results.

The goal with learning is proficiency and excellence in the shortest period of time; why do somethings which will only get you 5% of the way. when you could do something which will get you 50% of the way?

In other words, what can you learn today which will bring a large percentage of the results?

First, what is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle is an observed pattern which shows most things in life are not evenly distributed.

Also known as the 80/20 principle, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input – and this is observed in many areas:

  • 20% of workers produce 80% of the work
  • 20% of the customers produce 80% of the sales
  • Applied to this learning series, 20% of your actions and things you learn will bring 80% of our results.

The next logical question then is how do you find the 20% of actions? How do you figure out what is completely necessary, and what can wait?

These are difficult questions to answer. Each learning situation is different.

For me, when I’m learning something new, I dive down the rabbit hole.

I watch a couple YouTube videos, do a bunch of Googling, and try to better understand what will result in a headache and what will result in success.

Experimenting and doing my best to get an overview is the first part, and then I start to pare down the results.

Again, each learning situation is different and if you find yourself getting a headache and not seeing results with one methods, then maybe it’s time to try another one.

After setting your goal and deconstructing what you want to learn, figuring out the best course of action is critical.

What are the 20% of actions which can bring 80% of the results? What are the core things you should learn first which will help you get to proficiency fastest?

After figuring out the core pieces to your puzzle, it’s time to order them for your learning success.

Optimally Ordering Your Actions for Success with Sequencing

After figuring out our goals and breaking down these goals into smaller, learnable blocks, figuring out what’s most important is key for success in your learning.

It’s now time to optimize your actions by looking to answer the questions, “how can I best sequence my actions to get the best results?”

The goal with learning and doing is not just to find the right pieces of the puzzle, but also, find how those pieces fit together.

Let’s say you are looking to bake a cake.

It’s probably not optimal to put the pan in the oven without any of the eggs or flour in the pan…

While this is an overly simplistic example, if you don’t do the things you are learning in the correct order, you may get sub-optimal results.

Ultimately, the purpose of this exercise is to ensure you are doing things and having continuous small wins. Many training programs have huge expectations up front and as a result, leave many people in the dust.

How do you optimally order your actions for success?

There are a few strategies for figuring out the optimal sequence of actions:

  1. Go in reverse
    • Reverse engineering is a great strategy for understanding how things work.
    • If you can take it apart, you can put it together
  2. Inventory what others have done
    • You do’t need to reinvent the wheel – copying others’ paths work!
  3. Ask yourself if there’s anything in your past which you can leverage for your future

What’s the best way about going towards your goals? While it’s great to know what the pieces of the puzzle are, it’s also equally as critical to figure out how these pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Again, ultimately, the purpose of this sequencing exercise is to ensure you are doing the right things and having continuous small wins.

After performing the exercise of asking yourself these different questions and thinking critically, you are now equipped with a plan.

Taking action is the next step.

After you’ve figured out your master plan for learning the new skill, you need to guarantee a way you’ll do the work.

Why Stakes are Critical for Learning and Work

Guarantee You'll Do the WorkHave you ever started something and a few weeks later, the spark had faded?

Starting off, you were really excited to be doing something new. Then, for whatever reason, the habit didn’t completely form, or your priorities shifted.

How come it seems incredibly difficult to stick with something for more than a few days, or weeks at a time?

What went wrong?

What if I told you there was a way to guarantee you get your work done?

I have a question for you: would you work harder to make $100, OR work harder to avoid losing $100?

If you are like me, I’m guessing you would work harder to avoid losing $100.

Naturally, humans are loss averse, meaning, humans would prefer to avoid a loss than seek the equivalent gain.

When learning something new, or doing something new, there have to be stakes. An easy example of stakes is at your day job: if you don’t show up, you’ll be fired.

A way to guarantee you’ll do the work from The 4-Hour Chef is the concept of donating to an “anti-charity”. 

Let’s say, for example, you are anti-gun and hate the NRA.

How motivated would you be if you had to donate $10 to the NRA every time you didn’t do what you said you were going to do?

Another example of stakes include an accountability partner where the loser has to buy dinner. There are many possibilities to use stakes, and you can structure this however you want.

At the end of the day, you have to figure out what the best way to get the work done is for you.

By using stakes, you can ensure you get the work done.

Now, let’s take a look at a few advanced things to consider when learning something new.

Retaining Information through Compression and One Page Cheat Sheets

The first advanced how to become a better learner topic is compression.

Every new subject and topic can be overwhelming when starting.

What if there was a way to retain what you’ve learned in an effective way?

Many subjects are incredibly complicated and have so much information. What’s important in your subject? What doesn’t matter?

One of the ways to retain what’s important in a topic is to compress the information into a one page cheat sheet.

Two different types of cheat sheets which the 4 Hour Chef recommends are the following:

  • Prescriptive cheat sheets
    • Writing out all of the principles and rules for a subject so you can go back and build from there
  • Practice cheat sheets
    • Writing out real world examples which will lead to the principles after examining those examples

For example, a prescriptive cheat sheet for driving a car might have the following information:

  • Hit the right pedal when you want to accelerate, hit the left pedal to stop.
  • Try to accelerate and decelerate smoothly.
  • Come to complete stops at a red light or stop sign.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Pass on the left.
  • Yield to other cars on your right.

Following these rules and principles would probably get you to becoming a fairly decent driver.

Of course, there are many other rules and regulations on the road (and these are very important to follow…), but the concept is the same when learning any other subject.

Being able to take a concept, break it into simple blocks, and then remembering the most important pieces, will allow you to learn anything at a fast, but low stress, pace.

What’s most important for success? Everything which isn’t important is not necessary to remember.

At the end of the day, a key to learning and becoming better is to always be compressing.

How Often and Long Should You Practice and be Learning?

Have you ever been in the middle of learning something, taken a short 5 to 10 minute break, came back, and everything clicked?

Sometimes, the best thing to do when you are in a rut is to stop digging and take a break.

One of the simplest, yet confusing questions is how long should you practice for progress.

Can you grow only doing 5 minutes a week? OR, should you be doing 25 minutes a day?

There are many studies on this, but it just comes down to figuring out what works best for you and for your goals. If you want to become awesome at something fast, you will have to practice every day for at least a little bit.

One way to keep your level of engagement and efficiency at a high level is to take breaks.

If you are going to train for 30 minutes or more, then a break here and there will vastly improve your results.

One other pro learning hack is based on the Von Restorff effect: learning something and associating it with something crude or inappropriate will allow you to remember and keep going at a high level.

When figuring out the frequency for your practicing and learning, it’s important to critically think and figure out what’s best for you.

The Power of Imagery and Association: Remember More with Encoding

What if there was a way to remember anything you wanted?

Think back to your favorite memories: can you remember those moments like they are a movie playing in your head?

Let me ask you a question: Is it easily to remember a string of letters or numbers, OR is it easier to remember a string of images?

The answer is images, right?

What are the 7 colors of the color wheel?

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

I bet you had that right at the tip of your tongue the second after reading that question.

Why? Simple, when you were in art class many years ago, you encoded ROY G BIV in your mind to never forget the color wheel.

There are a few strategies for encoding:

  • Mmenomics
    • A mmenomic are a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something
  • Chunking
    • The strategy to remember a phone number is to use chunking: chunk it into zip code, the first 3 digits, and then the last 4 digits.
  • Imagery
    • Can you create a picture in your head which represents the concept at hand? If there is a graphic representation of what you are learning, you will remember it more effectively.

Using these strategies will allow you to remember and recall information much more effectively and efficiency in your studies.

Become a Better Learner with The 4-Hour Chef

Becoming better at learning is a great skill to learn and improve upon.

The 4-Hour Chef is a fantastic book and guide for learning the skill of meta-learning. The DiSSS and CaFE framework provided will help you get to your goals much faster.

Learning how to learn, becoming better at learning, and growing as a learner all will make your job in this fast paced world so much easier and more efficient.

Content Inc

Do you have a content based business, or want to build a following through content marketing?

The majority of start-ups around the world begin their journey in exactly the same way as every other company. Product first, and then build a following.

Why do companies continue to make the same mistakes over and over? The formula for business must change.

Have you thought about building a following through content?

Whether you are a solo start-up or an innovative group within a large enterprise, the Content Inc. strategy can and will work with patience and the right content plan. Content Inc, by Joe Pulizzi, discusses a new way on how to build a business and brand.

First, build an audience. Then, create the product.

Traditionally, businesses have tried to do the opposite, and the track record speaks for itself: 90% of start-ups fail.

With the Content Inc. strategy, you will instead be first building an audience and following through a platform of your choice, listening to your customers and audience, and then monetizing your products.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Content Inc., takeaways from Content Inc., and a reading recommendation for you.

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley

Book Summary of Content Inc.

Content Inc. breaks down the business startup process into six steps, making it simple for your to visualize, launch and monetize your own business. These steps are:

  • The Sweet Spot
    • Identify the intersection of your unique competency and your personal passion
  • Content Tilt
    • Determine how you can “tilt” your sweet spot to find a place where little or no competition exists
  • Building the Base
    • Establish your number one channel for disseminating content (blog, podcast, YouTube, etc.)
  • Harvesting Audience
    • Use social media and SEO to convert onetime visitors into long-term subscribers
  • Diversification
    • Grow your business by expanding into multiple delivery channels
  • Monetization
    • Now that your expertise is established, you can begin charging money for your products or services

The Sweet Spot

“The sweet spot is a place where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort.” – Wikipedia

The Content Inc. strategy begins with a sweet spot, the intersection of your knowledge or skill area and your passion.

While it’s possible to develop a sweet spot without a passion point, it’s the passion that gives us our drive to continue until we employ a successful Content Inc. strategy.

What do you love, are passionate about, and know? That is your sweet spot for content marketing.

Content Tilt

“Everything under the sun has been said… you have to find a new way to say it.” – Henry Winkler

The majority of content developed every day is just like everything else out there. It does nothing for the reader or the producer.

It doesn’t matter the frequency or delivery or the channel you deliver the content through: if the content doesn’t tell a different story, it will most likely be ignored.

Be unique and original! No one wants to hear the same thing they always here.

Building the Base

“It is not the beauty of a building you look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” – David Allan Coe

Choose an appropriate platform for your audience.

  • Are you comfortable making videos?
    • YouTube might be your best bet.
  • Do you enjoy writing?
  • Maybe you enjoy taking pictures?
    • Instagram is the way to go!

Just be aware, you give up control when you move to certain platforms. If YouTube changes their algorithm, you might be out of luck.

With a blog or mailing list, you are in complete control of who you can reach with your content.

Harvesting Audience

“You can only build something massive by starting with something small to effectively close the distance.” – Danny Iny

Without an audience, your Content Inc. strategy will not work. If there is no one looking at your website, blog, YouTube Channel, how will you make any sales?

There are a number of ways to build an audience, but not all subscribers are created equal.

If you have a choice, go for email first. Web traffic and social media shares are great, but if you are not building an audience, those may be meaningless metric.

Focus on the metrics that help you build an opt-in audience.


“Career diversification ain’t a bad thing.” – Vin Diesel

As you diversify your platform, be sure to look beyond digital for hidden opportunities. The greatest media brands in the world leverage not only digital, but in-person and print components as well.

The most successful Content Inc. entrepreneurs focus on a blog, a book, and public speaking.

All three of these in combination will help take your Content Inc. strategy to the next level.


“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

There are many ways to make money from your content and subscribers:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Paid Products
    • eBooks
    • Courses
    • Physical Products
    • Premium Content
    • Coaching
  • Advertisting

It’s important to explore many different revenue generation sources because your audience may be receptive to other products.

Some of the best Content Inc. models employ multiple ways to make money from their audiences. (Just like financial investing, it’s important to diversify!)

Takeaways from Content Inc.

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from Content Inc. is how people in the 21st century are crushing it by writing articles, producing videos, and publishing podcasts.

Content Inc. is very inspiring to me as a content creator on this blog. It also was very informative as it provides detailed steps to start, grow and monetize content based businesses.

By following the six steps discussed above to set-up a content based business, you’ll be on your way to success as a blogger, YouTuber, or podcaster.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” – Henry David Thoreau

Our Recommendation for Content Inc

For writers, business owners, and marketers, understanding how to create content to connect with readers is so critical for success online.

Content Inc. is a fantastic read for marketing executives and managers looking to increase the number of leads coming to their business.

If you are looking to start or build a content based business, I’d highly recommend Content Inc.

Are you interested in using content to build an audience and business? What steps are you taking to build your email list? Which channel (blog, video channel, social media, etc.) interests you most?

The millionaire fastlane

Becoming rich in a short amount of time is a tough goal to accomplish, but possible. With entrepreneurship, it is possible to get rich fast and become wealthy at a young age.

In The Millionaire Fastlane, MJ DeMarco provides us ideas and a detailed framework for you to start a business and become rich.

Is your financial plan destined for greatness or mediocrity? Is your financial plan tied to variables you can’t control, such as the stock market or your job?

Why spend 40 years working 40 hours a week so you can be rich in a wheelchair? It doesn’t make sense.

MJ DeMarco built a large lead generation company in the early 2000s and sold it for multiple million dollars. He busted his butt for a few years so he could enjoy an early retirement. The story of his life is truly inspiring, and his tips and actionable items are extremely valuable.

Entrepreneurship might not be for everyone, but if you are looking to build extreme wealth fast, you must consider starting a business.

Below is a book summary of The Millionaire Fastlane, takeaways from The Millionaire Fastlane, and a reading recommendation for you.

“What if I told you ‘insane’ was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?” – Steve Buscemi

Book Summary of The Millionaire Fastlane

Starting off in The Million Fastlane, DeMarco presents why people should look to start a business if you want to become rich fast.

DeMarco discusses the three financial roads people are on: the Sidewalk, the Slowlane, and the Fastlane. Each of these financial roads are governed by a certain wealth equation.

The Sidewalk Wealth Equation

The Sidewalk wealth equation is:

Wealth = Income + Debt

Sidewalkers create their lifestyle in direct proportion to their income and supplement that lifestyle with extensive use of debt.

People in the personal finance community would identify these people as those who try to “Keep up with the Joneses”.

The Slowlane Wealth Equation

The Slowlane wealth equation is:

Wealth = Job + Market Investments

Under this wealth plan, income from a job funds both lifestyle and market investments. The problem here is your wealth is tied to variables which you cannot control (namely, the stock market).

In addition, you can only work so many hours in a day. It is physically impossible to work more than 24 hours in a day.

Therefore, the two parts of the equation are governed by variables you cannot control.

The Fastlane Wealth Equation

The Fastlane wealth equation is:

Wealth = Net Profit + Asset Value

where Net Profit = Units Sold x Unit Profit and Asset Value = Net Profit x Industry Multiple

All businesses leverage this equation. A Fastlaner builds wealth by providing value to their customers. They can increase their wealth by selling more units, or profiting more from each individual unit sold.

In addition, as profits increase, the underlying business asset increases in value. You can see how it is possible to get rich fast (not to be confused with “Get Rich Quick (Easy)).

If you want to get rich at a young age, you have to start a business and become an entrepreneur.

It is impossible to really rich by saving 10% of your paycheck, buying a used car, cancelling the movie channels, quitting drinking expensive Starbucks mocha lattes, saving and penny-pinching your life away, and trusting your life savings to the stock market.

“By working faithfully 8 hours a day, you many eventually get to be the boss and work 12 hours a day.” – Robert Frost

Why The Slowlane is Not the Safe Way to Go

Many of us are taught how the Slowlane will result in happiness and financial stability. Contrary to this popular opinion, DeMarco argues there are 6 reasons why The Slowlane is not a safe way to building extreme wealth:

  1. Trading time is trading life
    • We only have roughly 100 years to live. Why should we spend 40 hours a week at a job we don’t like?
    • In a job, you sell your life for money.
  2. Limitation on experience
    • How do you gain experience? You gain experience by doing.
    • The problem with a specialized skill set is, it narrows your useful value to a confined set of marketplace needs.
    • I’ve learned more in the last two years of blogging than I did in the past year at work!
  3. No Control
    • The economy tanks and you get laid off? Nothing a Slowlaner can do about it! To add insult to injury, your 401(k) balance is significantly lower and stock portfolio is hurting!
  4. Linda’s Bad Breath
    • How many of you have co-workers you don’t like?
  5. A Subscription to “Pay Yourself Last”
    • “Pay Yourself First” is a Slowlane doctrine. Guess what? You pay the government first, then your insurance, then your 401(K), etc.
  6. A Dictatorship on Income
    • Guess what will happen if you were to walk into your boss’s office and demanded a 100% raise? How about an 1,000%? You’d get laughed at.

While I understand DeMarco’s points, I want you to be aware that these points are trying to get the reader uncomfortable and considering alternative viewpoints.

Is Entrepreneurship a Golden Goose?

DeMarco rips on having a 9-5 job for the majority of the introduction of The Millionaire Fastlane. It was a very interesting section to read and think about as I have a 9 to 5 job and think it’s fine for now.

However, when thinking about ways to build wealth and live a happy life, there are many downsides of a 9-5 job. Some downsides include having little to no control on who you work with, what you get paid, and what you are able to work on.

By becoming an entrepreneur, you can do what you want each day and look to provide value to your customers (without the unnecessary bureaucracy).

While it seems the Fastlane is a great way to build wealth, there are also nuances and other variables to this discussion.

While, I do agree with his stance that the stock market is a casino and people shouldn’t be so eager to tie a majority of wealth to equities, there are many risks to entrepreneurship.

Starting your own business is risky and can lead to losses if you aren’t careful. I’ve personally found entrepreneurship to be very difficult and not for everyone.

However, if you have an idea and a strong plan, it’s possible to make it.

As The Millionaire Fastlane goes on, DeMarco provides us a framework for building a successful business.

How to Build a Successful Business

All successful businesses follow the following commandments:

  • The Commandment of Need
    • Most businesses fail because there wasn’t a market for the product.
    • There would be no point to start
  • The Commandment of Entry
    • How competitive is the market you are interested in?
    • You wouldn’t want to start a search engine company or social media company because there is no chance of rising to the top.
  • The Commandment of Control
    • You need to be in control of your income streams.
    • Affiliate and network marketing violate this commandment. What if the companies you are partnering with cut their payout?
  • The Commandment of Scale
    • Is it possible to reach millions?
    • The internet is a great example of scalability. My website can run 24/7 and I have the potential to reach people all over the world.
  • The Commandment of Time
    • Do you have to be working all day to ensure operations are running smoothly?
    • For example, if you were to start a coffee shop, you probably would have to be up at 3 AM and work all day – not the best option for a Fastlaner.

If you can build a business which does all 5 of these correctly and effectively, you can become rich.

Use The Law of Effection to Attract Wealth

Once you’ve created a business which satisfies the 5 commandments discussed above, now it’s time to tap into The Law of Effection. 

The Law of Effection states that the more lives you affect or breach, both in scale or magnitude, the richer you will be.

To make millions you must serve millions in scale or a few in magnitude.

People ask, how are the Kardasians are rich? They are able to get in front of millions of people on TV. Why is Lebron James rich? He impacts the lives of millions of kids all around the world. Name any famous person and I can guarantee they all get paid very nicely because of the influence they have on many people.

You want to become a millionaire? Sell a $1 item to 1 million people, a $10 item to 100,000 people, or an $1,000 item to 1,000 people – it’s simple math! 🙂

Becoming wealthy is both an exercise in building a business, but also an exercise in changing your mindset.

Change can happen in an instant.

Takeaways from The Millionaire Fastlane

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

I have a goal to build extreme wealth at a young age. Since this is my goal, then I should consider starting a business and looking to tap into the Fastlane Equation.

The main takeaway from The Millionaire Fastlane is that is definitely possible to achieve financial freedom in a short amount of time by scaling a business.

Building and scaling a business will be difficult, but it is certainly a possibility over time.

A secondary takeaway is if you are looking to scale a business, you will need to be in a growing or big market.

Making more money involves providing targeted value and being compensated for your value. If you can provide immense value to thousands of people, you’ll become rich – it’s just a matter of time before the money starts rolling in.

To live unlike everyone else, you have to do what everyone else won’t.

Our Recommendation for The Millionaire Fastlane

The Millionaire Fastlane is a comprehensive book for prospective business owners and entrepreneurs.

Building wealth through a business can be difficult, but it can also be a lot of fun and much faster than a corporate job in a cubicle.

Starting a business which satisfies a need and can reach thousands of people are the first steps to creating massive wealth. After you start, consistent and intentional actions will lead to massive success over time.

If you are interested in entrepreneurship, building wealth, or business, you need to read The Millionaire Fastlane.

Are you living unlike anyone else so you can live like no one else? What are your thoughts on the concepts of Sidewalkers, Slowlaners, and Fastlaners? Do think think sacrificing a few years of your life is worth an early retirement?

The Millionaire Fastlane Review