book review of the automatic millionaire

Do you want to be rich?

How great would it be to be a millionaire and not have to worry about money?

One of my goals is to become a millionaire. I want to not have to worry about money in the future.

How can we achieve these goals? Is becoming rich easy?

What if I told you, there was a one-step formula to follow, to live life and finish rich? 

The Automatic Millionaire, by David Bach, contains a plan for you to retire rich. David Bach argues there is one thing you need to do to finish your working years rich: pay yourself first.

Pay yourself first? Yes. It’s that easy.

In The Automatic Millionaire, Bach talks about why paying yourself first will enable you to become a millionaire, automatically, and lays out a 7 step plan for financial success.

The rest of the post includes a summary of The Automatic Millionaire, takeaways from The Automatic Millionaire, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of The Automatic Millionaire

The Automatic Millionaire is all about automating your personal finances so you can focus on living life. There are so many solutions through technology that after setting up, you can forget about and grow your wealth.

Let technology handle the transfers from your paycheck to savings, investment accounts, debt pay accounts, and charity, and live life worry free.

The #1 Tip for Becoming Rich: Pay Yourself First

Paying yourself first will enable you to become an automatic millionaire.

What’s paying yourself first mean? Many us pay ourselves last: we first, pay our rent, then utilities, then grocery bill, the government through taxes, the local bar we love to frequent, and the list goes on and on.

At the end of the month, whatever we have left, we maybe put into savings. There has to be a better way to save right?

Pay yourself first.

In The Automatic Millionaire, paying yourself first means putting money in a traditional retirement account – saving your pre-tax income for the future.

Paying yourself first means prioritizing your savings and investments first, before anyone else gets your money.

Using The Latte Factor to Save More Money

Bach’s trademarked idea for building wealth is what he calls “The Latte Factor.”

The Latte Factor is all of your small daily expenses which have the potential to add up over time.

Spending $3.50 on a coffee and $1.50 on a bagel daily for breakfast at Starbucks is already $5 for the day. That’s even before lunch and dinner! If you aren’t careful with the small expenses, you can end up spending quite a bunch of money.

Bach recommends examining your expenses, and really thinking hard about what you need. $10 a day can add up drastically when saved over 30 years for your retirement.

With a 10% market return, you can become a millionaire by saving $10 a day!

The Automatic Millionaire Blueprint

Throughout the The Automatic Millionaire, Bach talks about numerous ways to build wealth and become rich over time.

At the end of The Automatic Millionaire, Bach provides us a blueprint for becoming an automatic millionaire:

  1. Pay yourself first automatically.
    • By investing 10% of your salary and income, you will increase your odds to nearly 100% of becoming a millionaire at retirement.
    • Bach recommends using the pre-tax option to make it easier to get 10% into savings.
  2. Deposit your paycheck automatically.
    • Set up direct deposit so you never see your paycheck.
  3. Fund your “rainy day” emergency account automatically.
    • Having an emergency fund is essential. What happens if you lose your job? What happens if something breaks in your house?
    • Make sure to transfer your cash over automatically to your emergency account so you can make sure it happens.
  4. Fund your dream account automatically.
    • Similar to #3, what are you looking to do in the next 2-3 years that will require a nice cash payment? Want to take a nice vacation!
    • There’s nothing wrong with spending your hard earned cash!
  5. Pay your credit card bills automatically.
    • Get out of debt! After destroying your debt, make sure to pay off your credit card each and every month.
    • Interest is a waste of money!
  6. Pay all your monthly bills automatically.
    • Schedule all of your utility and monthly bills automatically so you don’t forget.
  7. Give to charity automatically.
    • After growing your wealth, you have a great opportunity to give back and make a difference. You can give back with your time or with your money.

Following these steps will get you on the path to financial freedom.

Takeaways from The Automatic Millionaire

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

The main takeaway from The Automatic Millionaire is making sure you are staying on top of your Latte Factor.

If you are not spending your money on things which bring you joy and value, you can waste a lot of money fast.

Making coffee in the morning, instead of buying it at Caribou Coffee or Starbucks, could lead to hundreds of dollars of savings over time.

Similarly, cutting down on snacks or eating out could result in accumulating wealth very fast.

The secondary takeaway is the importance of AUTOMATION.

Technology has allowed humans the ability to do so many things. The same is true for personal finance. We can automate almost all of our payments, bills, and investment contributions after a one time set-up.

Spending money is harder when the money is automatically invested for you month after month. Do yourself a favor and automate your personal finances. You’ll be on your way to building wealth in no time.

Our Recommendation for The Automatic Millionaire

The Automatic Millionaire is a easy and quick read with many actionable tips for personal finance success.  I’d highly recommend it for you if you are interested in becoming financially free.

Financial success is so simple, but yet so many people don’t take the necessary steps to making it work for them. Tracking your income and expenses, and automating your finances will do wonders for your financial situation.

Financial success won’t improve overnight.

But, over time, year by year, your investments, savings, and debt situation all improve.

I’m excited to see you become a millionaire.

Readers: are you paying yourself first? Are you on the way to becoming a millionaire, automatically? Are you following The Automatic Millionaire Blueprint?Save

The Automatic Millionaire Book Review

Financial success is about having enough money to lead the life you want.

How to Think About Money, by Jonathan Clements, tackles the “personal” side of personal finance. His goal is to help readers alter their thoughts on handling money for the betterment of their financial situations. I was drawn to this book because I’m interested in personal finance, for many reasons, but also, I’m interested in the psychology of things. One of the things I’m focusing on in 2017 is experimenting with new things, and any book or experience which will bring new concepts and thoughts into my life is something I welcome with open arms.

Clements spent 31 years thinking and writing about money: 25 years as a financial journalist, and another 6 years as Director of Financial Education at Citigroup. Clements’ goal is to look at our relationship with money and talk about how we can improve our financial situation.

Summary of How to Think About Money

In How to Think About Money, there are five steps to which Clements’ believes should be central to how we handle money:

  1. First, we should spend our money in a way which will bring us happiness. Things that don’t bring us direct happiness might not be worth buying, believe it or not!!
  2. Second, most of us will live a long time, the life expectancy for people in their 20’s-40’s is more than 85 years old. For this reason, it is extremely necessary to save more early in life.
    • A point Clements makes in the book is our investment horizon is not weeks and months, but years and decades.
  3. Third, due to our brains being hard-wired to spend and consume, we fail as savers and investors. Once we change our mindset to a saver mindset, we will be aligned much better for financial success.
  4. Fourth, we tend think of our finances in many distinct buckets: loans over here, deposits over there, insurance policies around the bend. We should think about these buckets as multiple parts of a whole.
  5. Fifth, we should focus on protecting our assets vs. taking on too much risk. Clements does not suggest taking no risk, but we should be careful with what we have accumulated.

Action Steps

I have a few action steps to take away from How to Think About Money. One of them is to keep leveraging my paycheck to improve my financial situation. What I mean by leveraging my paycheck is using the money I earn in my day job to create multiple income streams for the future. Currently, I have two income streams: my day job paycheck and my house (I have two roommates). I would love to turn this blog into another income stream, with my short term goal to be roughly $500 a month in income.

In addition to leveraging my paycheck to develop more income streams, I want to continue to challenge my thoughts on my financial situation. I will do so by writing posts on this blog and gather feedback from The Mastermind Within community to further my understanding and improve where necessary.

Remarkable Quotes and Passages from How to Think About Money

Here are some impactful quotes, takeaways, and notes in addition to what I have above:

  • “Money can buy happiness, but not nearly as much as we imagine.”
  • “We place too high a value on possessions and not enough on experiences.”
  • In a poll, the worst ranked activity of a person’s day was the morning commute and the third worst ranked activity was the evening commute.
  • More money may not make us happy – but not having money could make us extremely unhappy.
  • When managing money, we should worry less about dying young, and more about living an astonishingly long life. We should first focus on achieving some measure of financial freedom, then focus on what we are passionate about.
  • A question, given a choice, wouldn’t you rather spend your time doing what you are passionate about, rather than devoting your days to work that others deem important?

Given a choice, wouldn’t you rather spend your time doing what you are passionate about, rather than devoting your days to work that others deem important?

  • The fundamental value of the underlying corporation does not decline as quickly as the share price of that underlying corporation. Changes in the real economy simply don’t happen that fast.
  • You should not invest in the company you work for’s stock. This is to prevent a double whammy from occurring: economy tanks, you are potentially out of a job and your investment portfolio could suffer.
  • Having children will make it difficult to become financially free.
  • Financial success is about having enough money to lead the life you want.
  • Change your thinking: do not ask “Is this the right time to buy stocks?” rather ask the following questions: “How will investing in stocks affect my portfolio? Will I overextend myself from a risk standpoint? How much will this transaction cost in tax and expenses?”
  • Focus less on the odds of success or failure, and more on the consequences.
  • Ask yourself this question: if I was to start from scratch, would I buy the portfolio I own today?

Ask yourself this question: if I was to start from scratch, would I buy the portfolio I own today?

Our Recommendation for How to Think About Money

If you are looking for a quick read on improving the “personal” side of your personal finances, I’d certainly recommend reading How to Think About Money. A while back I read Money – Master the Game, by Tony Robbins (book review). I’d recommend How to Think About Money before Money because it is 450 pages shorter, is not focused on advertising friends’ businesses, and is straightforward and to the point. While there are a few drawbacks, namely, no pictures or tables, Clements covers a lot of material and have actionable steps to take to be financially successful.

Have you read How to Think About Money? How long is your commute? Did you put off having kids until your finances were set?

the end of jobs

Jobs suck because they’re rooted in limited leverage and limited control. Sure, you can have a great job (and a fun one too!) but in the scope of wealth, they limit both leverage and control – two things desperately needed if you want wealth. – MJ DeMarco

You wake up each day between 6 and 7 am. You have breakfast, wash up and brush your teeth, get dressed, get the kids off to school, and get on your way to work. Your boss yells at you for some trivial reason, and you spend the next 8 hours doing work for someone else. After work, you come home, have dinner, spend time with your kids and spouse, and go off to bed to do it again to do it the next day.

Is this what you want? Could there be something more to life? To work? What if you started your own business? What would your days look like then? Would you be happier?

Entrepreneurship is connecting, creating, and inventing systems – be they businesses, people, ideas, or processes. The End of Jobs, by Taylor Pearson, discusses how now is the best time in the history of the world to become an entrepreneur. Pearson spent three years interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world and working with dozens of them to grow their businesses. The End of Jobs is the culmination of Pearson’s interviews and experiences. The End of Jobs is eye-opening, thought provoking, and gives a rough outline of how you could be a successful entrepreneur.

Improved communication technology has made it easy for individuals and companies to find, hire, and manage not just industrial workers, but knowledge workers as well.

Before you read the summary, let me start off telling you while The End of Jobs makes many good points, it also has some scare tactics to hit the reader emotionally and get you excited about entrepreneurship.

Summary of The End of Jobs

In the late 20th century, many United States companies realized cheap labor existed in developing countries in Asia and started outsourcing many jobs. This trend has continued; many companies have full departments in foreign nations. Advances in communication technology has made this possible. Have you had a Skype call with someone on another continent? It’s crazy!

Advances in communication technology allows companies to communicate across continents and tap into a talent pool of 7 billion people. Why can’t we do this as individuals?

Right now, we live in an era where it has never been easier to start a business. We started this blog for less than $150! Why is it so easy to start a business in recent times? A few reasons:

  • Production costs have never been lower
    • Like I said above, we started this blog for less than $150 and has unlimited income potential.
  • There are countless ways to distribute your product
    • Everyone has a smartphone, an internet connection, and an email account
  • There are new markets being created each day
    • Globalization has allowed entrepreneurs the opportunity to consult, sell to, and work with businesses and individuals all over the world. This allows entrepreneurs to solve problems and provide value without being local.

As a result of three points above, Pearson concludes it has never been easier to become an entrepreneur.

Think about it, do you want to write a book or start a blog? Easy! It will take some time, but long gone are the days of working with editors to prove your book is worth publishing. Now, people write books and put them on Amazon for the world to see. eBooks cost nothing to make; leveraging the internet and technology can be very profitable.

Takeaways from The End of Jobs

The End of Jobs proved me right. I knew starting a blog was a good idea 🙂

With this project and a few other projects, I believe the time to quit my day job might be sooner than I thought. It would be awesome not to have to work a 9-5 job and be able to do my own thing each day.

“We assume jobs are safe because they’ve always been safe, not because there’s good evidence they will be in the future.”

3 Profound Passages from The End of Jobs

  1. Jobs not only limit the upside of intrinsic value by tying money to time – they also give up control. We have no leverage beyond trading more time, which is our most valuable and only truly limited asset. We lose control to react to market forces outside the scope of the job.
  2. By harnessing freedom and meaning earlier in our career and putting it into our work, we can now live freer, more meaningful lives that help others, and get rich doing it.
  3. It’s cheaper, easier, and safer to start a business. When you grow it using variables you control, you make more money because you have unlimited leverage. You also are building an asset which can be sold. And, you’ve acquired a skill set that protects your downside.

Our Recommendation for The End of Jobs

If you are interested in starting your own business, please read The End of Jobs. If you are tired of working for your company and have a creative spirit, then read The End of Jobs. Will you control your future or will a corporation control it? I’m going to explore starting my own business – even if I fail, it will be a great learning process! In the mean time, I plan to continue to read books, gain new experiences, and write a book! Writing a book will test me in ways I’ve never been tested. I’m very excited about the future; there is so much potential for me! 🙂

“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” – Christopher Morley

Would you ever start your own business, a blog, or consulting service? Do you think 9-to-5’ers are at risk? What is stopping you from becoming an entrepreneur? Do you have any book suggestions for me on start-ups?

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant, is all about creative thinking and being unique.

As easy as some people make it look, producing something truly original is time consuming and difficult.

No one gets something right on the first try, and being creative takes many many iterations before getting to the final product.

In Originals, Adam Grant covers how creative thinking happens, what we can do to become more creative and innovative, and also provides some strategies for dealing with emotions in different situations.

Adam Grant has been the top-rated professor at The Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania for the last 5 years, and has been recognized for influential management thinking.

If you are looking to become more original, creative and unique in your work, Originals is a must read.

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

How to find a new idea: think of something unrelated, then add something familiar. This produces something novel and useful.

Book Summary of Originals

In Originals, Grant starts out by discussing the concepts of originality and conformity.

To be original, Grant argues, is to be constantly challenging the status quo and the defaults of your domain.

While it is much easier to conform to norms, this is counterproductive to being original. By conforming, you will not be producing unique work.

For producing original work, Grant talks about many different ways we can force ourselves into creative thought. 6 of the ways to think more creatively include:

  • Question the default
    • Asking questions like “What is this wasn’t the correct way to think about the world?” and “Why is the world this way?” can lead to more original thought
  • Triple the ideas you create
    • The odds of producing a genius result by only trying a few times is slim to none. It took Thomas Edison 2,000 attempts to get the light bulb just right!
  • Welcome criticism and seek more feedback from peers
    • By getting other people’s perspective on a situation, you can improve your perspective on the situation.
  • Think about the opposite
    • Turn the situation around, what does it look like from the other angle? By thinking about the opposite, you open your mind to potential downfalls of your plan.
  • Think about what our enemies would do
    • If someone hates you, what would they do? By thinking about what our enemies would do, we awaken an urgency to stay competitive.
  • Immerse yourself in a new domain
    • Many domains have similarities to your domain. Similar to cross training in exercise, by looking at other domains, you can draw parallels to your current situation and adapt.

Throughout the book, there are many tips and tactics for unlocking your full creative thinking potential.

The more experiments you run, the less constrained you become by your ideas from the past.

Takeaways from Originals

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

There were so many takeaways from Originals (I finished the book with 4 pages of notes…), but two have stuck with me:

  • Questioning the default
  • Tripling the number of ideas you create and implement

Question the Default

What is something you follow and believe which others believe?

When I was growing up, I got sucked into the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If I didn’t eat breakfast, I would basically die of starvation.

Once I got to college, I started experimenting with my breakfasts and eating habits. I found when I woke up, I was thirsty, and not hungry.

For me personally, intermittent fasting has lead to much greater benefits than eating sugary cereals in the morning.

Questioning the default has lead to better health and more focused mornings for me.

For you, who knows what defaults you believe and how you could benefit from questioning the default!

Triple the Number of Ideas You Create

Increasing the number of ideas you create is essential to producing something creative.

It took Thomas Edison 2,000 attempts to invent the light bulb. That first time he sat down at his desk, how do you think his light bulb performed?

It failed!

And that’s totally okay.

Have you ever heard the saying Fail Forward?

Not every attempt at something creative is going to end up going viral or become your finest work.  However, if you don’t try, you won’t get to that viral work.

Being original doesn’t require being first. It requires being different and better.

Our Recommendation for Originals

By changing the way you think and brainstorm, you are capable of coming up with some amazing, unique work.

Questioning the default, tripling the number of ideas you create, and welcoming criticism and feedback all can lead in new and innovative thoughts.

Looking at situations from the other side and diving into other domains can also inspire unique ideas.

Try the strategy which resonates with you! As listed above, Adam Grant presents to us 6 ways to come up with something new and bold.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World is a must-read book about originality, challenging the default, and becoming creative in your life and work.

If you work as a creative, or are looking to become an entrepreneur, you need to read Originals.

How do you inspire original thought in your work and life? 

the 5 love languages

The 5 Love Languages is a fantastic book about the different love languages each person has. This book has the kinds of love languages and talks about how you can use the types of love languages to have great relationships with those around you. This article has a list of those love languages and a review of the book by Gary Chapman.

We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.

Are you struggling with your relationship with your spouse or partner? Why does it seem like you fell in love so easily, but the spark has gone dull? What can you do to improve your relationship so that love will flow freely?

The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, deconstructs how we want to be loved and how we should communicate our love for others.

The 5 Love Languages is a very quick and informative read, and one of my favorite.

Each person has a love language which is the key to feeling happy, trusting and fulfilled in any relationship.

These 5 Love Languages apply to a friendship, a relationship, or a marriage, and everyone can gain something from reading this book by Gary Chapman.

By applying the techniques Chapman suggests in The 5 Love Languages, anyone can improve their relationship with their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or family members.

The rest of this post includes a summary of The 5 Love Languages, takeaways from The 5 Love Languages, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of The 5 Love Languages

The book, The 5 Love Languages, is all about the ways in which each person receives love.

Everyone has a primary love language, and this is the way in which that person will feel best in their relationship.

As a lover, being sincere is not enough in a relationship.

Instead, we must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.

By learning the love languages and how to work with them, you can cultivate an amazing and loving relationship with our spouse.

What are the Three Truths of Love?

Before providing the types of love languages and a list of the 5 love languages, Gary Chapman discusses the 3 truths of love.

The three truths of love are as follow:

  • What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage.
  • Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.
  • My spouse’s criticisms about my behavior provide me with the clearest clue to her primary love language.

Understanding the truths listed above sets the stage for the 5 love languages.

No one is always consistent in their actions; it is impossible, and as a result, we must work each and every day on ourselves and on our relationships.

With these three truths, we can now talk about what the 5 love languages are and how to apply them in our lives and relationships.

What are the 5 Love Languages?

So, what exactly are the 5 love languages?

Below, I have a list of the 5 Love Languages. The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

Everyone has their own personal primary love language. A picture of a perfect mate should give you some idea of your primary love language.

The first love language is Words of Affirmation. Words of Affirmation are compliments. If you love getting compliments more than anything else, then your primary love language is Words of Affirmation.

The second love language is Acts of Service. Acts of Service is when someone else does things for you. Maybe this involves cleaning the house, making dinner, or giving massages after a long day.

The third love language is Receiving Gifts. Everyone loves to receive gifts, but some people are very materialistic and love receiving gifts.

The fourth love language is Quality Time. Spending uninterrupted time where the two of you can talk, be together, and enjoy each other is the key for quality time.

The fifth love language of the 5 love languages is Physical Touch. Kisses, hugs, holding hands, etc. are all ways that people whose main love language is Physical Touch give and receive love.

With these examples and types of love languages, which one is your main love language? Do you have any secondary love languages as well?

5 Powerful Passages from The 5 Love Languages

In the 5 Love Languages book, there are a number of great passages and quotes.

Below are a few 5 quotes which stuck with me after I read the book.

  • Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement.
  • Learning to listen may be as difficult as learning a foreign language, but learn we must if we want to communicate love.
  • Visual symbols of love are more important to some people than others.
  • The most important thing you can do for your mate in a time of crisis is to love him or her. If your spouse’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries.
  • If she feels loved and admired and appreciated by her husband, then she has a desire to be physically intimate with him. Most sexual problems in marriage have little to do with physical technique but everything to do with meeting emotional needs.

Now, I’m going to share with you my takeaways from reading The 5 Love Languages.

Takeaways from The 5 Love Languages

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

After reading this book, I learned about my primary love language, and also was able to reflect on past relationships and see where I was wrong and how I could have improved.

For me, I’m single, but I can still look to incorporate the concepts of The 5 Love Languages in my day to day activities. Before reading The 5 Love Languages I thought my primary love language was Quality Time. Now, I know my main love language is Acts of Service. This makes sense – when my roommate doesn’t clean up the kitchen, no wonder I get upset!! 🙂

Also, I thought back to my previous relationships. Like I said above, I thought my love language was Quality Time. Upon further reflection, it is clear that my favorite hang outs were times when my significant other cooked for me, planned a day for us, or helped me do some chores.

In addition to coming to the realization about my primary love language, I want to try to figure out my friends’ love languages. This will help create an environment where my friends and family around me will be happy due to my actions!

With empty love tanks, couples tend to argue and withdraw, and some may tend to be violent verbally or physically in their arguments. But when the love tank is full, we create a climate of friendliness, a climate that seeks to understand, that is willing to allow differences and to negotiate problems.

Our Recommendation for The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages is a book every couple who has a serious relationship should read. The 5 Love Languages gives you actionable steps for you to improve your relationship.

While I’m single, I have been thinking how I can apply this in my day to day life.

In particular, I want to figure out my roommates’ love language so I can increase the household happiness 🙂

If you are single, I’d still recommend The 5 Love Languages, and if you are in a couple, then it’s a definite must-read.

You will be able to understand why your parents treated and brought you up the way they did. All in all, The 5 Love Languages is a informative, quick read packed with great insights into how to have healthy relationships.

Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different.

Readers: Do you know your love language? Do you know your spouse’s love language? Are you actively looking to improve your relationships through reading?

Zero to One

It’s up to us. We cannot take for granted that the future will be better, and that means we need to work to create it today. – Peter Thiel

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel, with Blake Masters, touches on the mindset required to create a thriving and successful business in the modern world. In addition to thoughts on the required mindset, he poses questions and criteria which are important for any founder to ask and examine as they decide to go into the harsh world of startups and business.

Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal and Palantir, and has made investments in other startups, such as Facebook, SpaceX, and LinkedIn. Given this first hand experience in working in and with startups, he created a class which he taught to Stanford students on startups; Zero to One is the book version of this class.

Summary of Zero to One

I was drawn to Zero to One for multiple reasons. First, I’m interested in creating a business in the near future. I’m not exactly sure what my product will be at this point, but I want to surround myself with the correct environment and knowledge so that when I do come up with a feasible idea, I can tackle it and make it work. Second, I’ve read Peter Thiel is a unique person; someone who challenges the status quo. This appeals to me as I try every day to challenge my thoughts on the world and become a more rounded and knowledgeable individual.

Think for Yourself

There are many meaningful insights Thiel has in Zero to One; I will go through three main points. First, it is extremely important for a person to think for themselves. What Thiel means is just because the crowd is going one way, that doesn’t mean you should blindly follow. Applying it to business and entrepreneurship, we should look to create something new and has value. You and I probably won’t create the next social media platform or a search engine to surpass Google. But, with an idea and excellent execution, we could create something on that scale.

Dominate a Small, Niche Market

Second, it is easier to dominate a smaller market than to try and squeeze 1% out of a large market. Essentially, the goal of a startup is to identify a niche space and look to dominate and monopolize that space. Google did it with search engines, Microsoft did it with the superior software, LinkedIn did it with a professional networking and recruiting website. If you can create an impactful product in a niche space, you can and will make money. This being said, Thiel does say that if we want to try to get into a big market is useless unless you have a product which is 10x better than the current products.

Make Definite Plans

Third, we need to have definitive plans about our future. Wishy washy optimism is not going to bring us a wildly successful future; we need to be make definite plans about our future. This includes short term plans and also longer term plans. Thiel says this is something many Americans are doing and it’s leading to certain problems: many people have the mindset that the future will be better than the present, but we don’t know exactly how. By taking control of our futures, we can influence how it will be better.

My Takeaways

With all books, it isn’t enough to just read the content; the actions which one takes after reading are extremely important for our growth. I want to focus on thinking of ideas of a product I could market in niche space. Also, I want to focus in on planning for the future. At the end of February, I will have my taxes finished and I will have received my bonus from work. At this point, I can more effectively forecast my cash position for the coming months and determine which investments or ideas would be feasible. Stay tuned for the coming posts!

Insightful Quotes and Passages from Zero to One

Here are some other insightful notes, quotes, and thoughts I have from reading Zero to One:

  • Technology and machines shouldn’t be used to completely automate our jobs. We should use technology and machines to complement our work and make it more efficient. Future work will be highly dependent on human interactions with computers and analysis.
  • We need to be aware of the Power Law, i.e. the world is not “normally distributed” but has fat tails.
    • The investor returns for the best startup is usually greater than the sum of all the other startups in the same space.
  • Belief in secrets is an effective truth.
    • What do people not understand or know about and how can we benefit off of this?
  • A company does better the less it pays its CEO.
  • When trying to recruit people, we should ask this question to ourselves, “Why should someone work for you and your company? What sets you apart?” We should answer with the products we are building and the mission we are on.
  • We should look to monopolize a niche space versus trying to compete in a crowded space.
    • Competition wipes away all profits.
  • Superior sales and distribution by itself can create a monopoly, even with no product differentiation.
    • The converse is not true.
  • “The essential first step is to think for yourself. Only by seeing our world anew, as fresh and strange as it was to the ancients who saw it first, can we both re-create it and preserve it for the future.”

“The essential first step is to think for yourself. Only by seeing our world anew, as fresh and strange as it was to the ancients who saw it first, can we both re-create it and preserve it for the future.”

Our Recommendation for Zero to One

Zero to One is a must read for entrepreneurs and people who want to influence future events. The main topics in Zero to One are thinking for oneself and planning for the future. If this describes your mindset and your actions, then Zero to One can only be beneficial for your enjoyment and purpose. Zero to One is a solid complement to Originals (book review) and Think Like a Freak (book review). In those books, I was challenged to think in a different way: I learned to think originally and think creatively, it takes exposure to new ideas, challenging the default, and relentlessly trying to uncover secrets.

Would you ever start a company or a startup? What products would you be interested in selling? Do you look to create a better future for yourself?

“The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it.” – Phil Knight

I’m interested in running a business someday and as a result, I want to read the success stories of various business leaders. Shoe Dog is the story of Phil Knight, the founder of NIKE. NIKE is an iconic athletic brand and has been for the past 30+ years.

The company wasn’t always the behemoth it is today, it took 10-15 years of successes, struggles, losses, and learning experiences, until they were well on their way. Knight writes about his thoughts and feelings throughout the process of building the NIKE brand.

In this post, you can read about the summary of Shoe Dog, our takeaways from Shoe Dog and a reading recommendation.

Summary of Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog starts out in 1962: Knight has just finished a yearlong stint with the Army, has already received an accounting degree from Oregon, and an MBA from Stanford, but does not know what he wants in life. Knight ran track at Oregon in college and still loves running. Then, at Stanford, he had an idea to distribute shoes made in Japan in the United States. He believed there was huge potential.

However, before exploring this idea, Knight wanted to travel the world. From Oregon, he goes west on a year long trip. During his second stop, in Japan, he secures the rights to distribute Onitsuka Tiger shoes. With $50 of his dad’s money, he purchases some samples. Then, for the next year, he travels the world, spending time in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Knight doesn’t know what he wants in life, but wanted to experience something different and gain a better perspective on the world.

Back to Work

Once arriving home, he goes to work selling the $50 worth of shoes (They were a lot cheaper back in the 60’s), and finds he is able to do so very easily. Next, he is back to Japan at the Onitsuka Headquarters and wants to order $1,000 in shoes.

Needing money, Knight borrows $500 from his dad and gets $500 from his college track and field coach, Bill Bowerman. Bill Bowerman, legendary track and field coach who was the head coach of the 1976 Olympic Track and Field team was originally 49% owner of the company “Blue Ribbon”. Blue Ribbon continued to grow as Knight would borrow the maximum he could from the bank, order new Tiger shoes, and then sell them out.

Blue Ribbon into NIKE

In the following chapters, I continued to learn about Blue Ribbon and how it became NIKE. I learned how Knight had to figure out how to navigate a situation with the U.S. Government; how Knight had to deal with his employees, bankers, Japanese trading companies, doubters, and other shoe companies. I learned how a group of runners, accountants, and misfits grew Blue Ribbon into NIKE and subsequently into the behemoth company it is today.

Seeing Similarities

One thing I really enjoyed in the book is I feel Knight and I share some similarities in our personalities. Both of us are analytic, not sales oriented, but both want to help others achieve their goals and dreams. One of Knight’s management strategies is having a hands off approach; by being hands off, he allows his employees the freedom to innovate and do what they want. By hiring talented individuals and letting those talented individuals run loose, he was able to have an army of loyal, smart, and innovative individuals who all lived and breathed the Oregonian culture of NIKE.

As I was drawn into the book more and more, I began to think that if Knight was 24 when he started his company, then anything is possible now for me. Now I just need to start producing ideas on what I can do to become more valuable to others!

Memorable Quotes from Shoe Dog

Here are some quotes, notes, and other thoughts I have after reading Shoe Dog:

  • Hire accountants to run your business, but do not put them in charge of doing creative things.
  • “… all I know is if I go out and bust my guy until I black out and somebody still beats me, and if I have made that guy reach down and use everything he has and then more, why then it just proves that on that day he’s a better man than I.” – Steve Prefontaine
  • Supply and demand is always the root problem in business.
  • “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
  • “You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.”
  • “It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”
  • “… that’s the nature of money. Whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days. Our task as human beings is not to let it.”
  • “Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

“Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.” – Phil Knight

My Takeaways

Like I said above, I’m interested in becoming a business owner or running a business. Shoe Dog got the wheels spinning inside my head. What kind of product could I come up with which would combine my passions of helping others, learning, or exercise? I’m going to be thinking about this for the coming days and weeks so I can get the ball rolling.

Our Recommendation for Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog is inspiring, full of history and facts, and a great read for entrepreneurs. Even though NIKE went public in the late 1970’s, there are many parallels we can draw to today’s international business environment.

I recommend Shoe Dog to any aspiring business owners, entrepreneurs, and athletes who want to learn about NIKE and the history of their business.

Do you enjoy reading autobiographies or biographies? What successful people do you want to learn about? What products would be beneficial to your training?

When setting goals for success, the true determinant of whether or not you achieve those goals will be the WORK you put in to get to where you want to be.

How will you do the work? How will you take bold action over time?

By structuring your life and establishing the proper behaviors, you can achieve any goal you want. How do you do this?

Enter Triggers, by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith.

How many of you have started a goal, a project, a relationship and it didn’t work out the way we envisioned it?

Maybe, you wanted to get an A on an exam. Possibly, you wanted to lose 10 pounds after holiday break. Maybe, you wanted a promotion at work. These are all reasonable goals, but sometimes they don’t work out as planned.

Sometimes we give up, fail, and decide “oh, it’s just something I can not do”.

With Triggers, you will learn how to structure your behaviors and life for success.

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

What creates change?  On a macro-level it’s simple.  Nike got it right: “Just do it.”

Book Summary of Triggers

Triggers was an incredible book, and is formatted in a way to spur personal growth.

Triggers is presented in four sections:

  • Why don’t we become the person we want to be?
  • The importance of asking ourselves powerful questions
  • How to structure your life to improve marginally each day and establish behavioral change.
  • A discussion of the consequences in not changing negative behaviors will negatively impact your life

The author of Triggers, Dr. Goldsmith, received his PhD from UCLAs Anderson School of Business.

Dr. Goldsmith has helped successful leaders achieve positive lasting changing behavior for more then 35 years: with clients ranging from Alan Mulally (former CEO of Ford), David Allen (world leader in personal productivity) to Deanna Mulligan (CEO of Guardian Life, and Fortune 50s 2014 most powerful women in business).

Like everything, the key to anything is asking the right questions.

Let’s go over each of these sections in more detail below.

What is a Trigger?

What is a trigger?  

Goldsmith defines a trigger as “any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions.”

These stimuli are practically infinite in number, and this definition spurs a number of thoughts and questions:

  • How do we avoid the bad ones? 
  • How do we repeat the good ones?
  • How do we make triggers work for us?

In Goldsmith’s experience as an executive coach, the key triggering mechanism in our lives is our environment.

“Our environment is a non-stop trigger mechanism whose impact on our behavior is too significant to be ignored.”

For example, think about the last time you got road-rage on a crowded highway, or the happiness you experienced during the celebration of a friend’s wedding.

Every small change has a profound impact on your environment.

By getting into the right environment, you can change your performance for the better.

How to Change Your Environment Triggers for Success

Triggers is all about changing your behavior for the better.

We cannot change our environment by changing others.  All we can do is change ourselves and have a positive impact in altering our own behavior.

Marshall lists a few “magic moves” that can significantly help our behavior. These are simple, but have a high impact:

  1. Apologizing is a magic move
    • It takes a cold person to fail to forgive someone who admits they were wrong.
  2. Asking for help is a magic move
    • few people will refuse a sincere request for help.
  3. Optimism
    • being positive inside yourself, and outward to others shows confidence that you believe everything will work out.  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy in the change process.

“Success in not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Ask Active Questions to be More Successful

After adjusting your perspective and thoughts on your outlook on life, you can continue to grow as a person by doing one more “magic move”.

Asking active questions is the final “magic move.”

By asking active questions, you can get more clarity on your goals and life.

  • Are you doing your best to be happy?
  • Did you do your best to find meaning?
  • Are you doing your best to build positive relationships with people?
  • Did you do your best to be fully engaged?

These are questions are all very important for personal growth.

As you continue to adjust your behaviors, coming back to these questions will be good for understanding where you came from, where you are, and where you are going.

Personal growth is PERSONAL. It is your responsibility to be the change you want in the world.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK

Takeaways from Triggers

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

Triggers is all about living intentionally, and taking personal responsibility of your actions and life.

The main takeaway from Triggers is each of us have the ability to change our behavior for the better. By adjusting our environment, by creating the right stimuli for success, and growing over time, anything is possible.

Rarely will your improvement and development be an overnight success. BUT, with consistent daily disciplines and efforts over time, you will be able to reach your goals and become the success you want and DESERVE.

Our Recommendation for Triggers

Triggers is a fantastic personal development book, and has many great tips and strategies for becoming better as a person.

If you aren’t quite happy with the person you currently are, then reading Triggers could help you get on the path to becoming the person you want to be.

You are responsible for your personal development and growth. No one else can be the change you want to be.

Critical and logical thinking is so necessary for success in this world. With the importance of logical thinking, why does it seem like so many people don’t know how to think? Wouldn’t you think you should learn how not to be wrong?

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordan Ellenberg, is a blueprint for mathematical and logical thinking.

When going through school, the different theories and concepts we learn are not always presented with the everyday reasoning behind them.

How Not to Be Wrong gives you a framework for how to think logically, and presents it with everyday language and examples.

The best part? How Not to Be Wrong is non-technical, and no prior math experience is needed.

These math concepts are important for math purposes, and we can take these principles and apply them in our everyday lives for success.

The rest of this post includes a summary of How Not to Be Wrong, takeaways from How Not to Be Wrong, and a reading recommendation for you.

Basic Rule of Mathematical Life: If the universe hands you a hard problem, try to solve an easier one instead, and hope the simple version is close enough to the original problem that the universe doesn’t object.

Book Summary of How Not to Be Wrong

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking is an easy and enjoyable read about mathematical thinking.

How Not to Be Wrong is split up into discussing 5 different mathematical concepts:

  • linearity
  • inference
  • expectation
  • regression
  • existence

Ellenberg looks to explain each of these concepts using stories from the past and non-technical examples.

To read this book, you do not need any formal mathematical training – there are no equations and many examples use illustrations to help the reader visualize the material.

Below is a description of each section:


The first mathematical concept discussed in How Not to Be Wrong is linearity.

Many mathematical models are linear and are used incorrectly.

The point of this section is to make the reader aware that non-linearity, i.e. curved lines, are much more common in the real world.

Some topics Jordan Ellenberg looks at in this section include, but are not limited to, government fiscal policy (what tax rate maximizes tax revenue?), curves are straight locally but curved globally, and projecting obesity in 2048 (100% of Americans will be obese based on the current trend!).

Use caution when using linear regression.


The first mathematical concept discussed in How Not to Be Wrong is inference.

Many mathematicians use hypothesis testing to make conclusions about statistical tests. This is commonly taught in entry level statistics courses.

Ellenberg discusses how many people produced statistical “tests” showing that various messages were could be found in the Torah if you mix and match the letters in a mathematical way (Ellenberg says it is kind of bogus).

Ellenberg also discusses the hypothesis testing, p-values, and how to appropriately draw conclusions (essentially proof by contradiction).

Improbable things happen a lot – “what is improbable is probable.”


The first mathematical concept discussed in How Not to Be Wrong is expectation.

Expectation is the average value of a situation (put in layman’s terms).

In this section, Ellenberg talks about how multiple groups won large sums of money playing a lottery game in Massachusetts, and looks at common misconceptions regarding the aggregation of the average value of various situations (the concept of additivity).


The first mathematical concept discussed in How Not to Be Wrong is regression.

Mathematicians use regression and correlation analyses to to draw conclusions about two variables.

A common mistake is drawing the conclusion that variables have a relationship based on the data where it could just be chance they are related.

In addition, you have to be careful when assigning the direction of the relationship. In the 1950’s, there were multiple studies on smoking and lung cancer. A question a mathematician could ask is “Does lung disease cause smoking?” (this is probably not the smartest question to ask, but the data could suggest this relationship).

Correlation is not transitive (no correlation does not imply no relationship)


The first mathematical concept discussed in How Not to Be Wrong is existence.

This section talks about a few different situations where unexpected results arise. One of the situations is in a three person political race and using different ways to tally the votes will result in different outcomes.

You need to know that it is possible to create the scenario you are analyzing, and not coming up with an imaginary outcome.

It is very difficult to apply traditional methods to “unknown unknowns”.

Takeaways from How Not to Be Wrong

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

From How Not to Be Wrong, the main takeaway is when working with data, you need to be careful with your assumptions and analysis.

Thinking mathematically is all about being skeptical about your results, making sure you have the right assumptions, and doing your due diligence.

You can twist and lie with data very easily. It takes a disciplined person with the right training to be able to do what is right with your analysis, and be aware of when others are trying to skew the results.

By understanding the 5 mathematical concepts above, you will be able to navigate tough situations more easily and logically.

Genius is a thing that happens, not a kind of person.

Our Recommendation for How Not to Be Wrong

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking is an easy and enjoyable read, and will be influential to any reader.

Whether you are an analyst at a company working with numbers, someone who plays games of chance, or someone who wants to increase their intuition of the subject, you’ll definitely want to check out How Not to Be Wrong.

Readers: do you try to gain intuition about technical subjects? Do you think learning about math and logic is valuable in your life?

Skill with People

Your skill with people determines the quality of your social life, your business life and your family life. To be better in our interactions with other people, we must properly understand people and their nature. After understanding people, we can tweak various behaviors to create a fantastic social environment around us.

Skill with People, by Les Giblin, provides you with actionable advice to help you in your interactions with others. Skill with People goes over many practical tips to dealing with people, ranging from talking to people, to making people feel important, to critiquing some successfully, to making a good impression.

Interacting with other people is extremely important in today’s world. Communication is the #1 skill many employers and people look for. To be able to navigate a variety of social situations – disagreements, negotiations, friendly conversations – is a skill we can all work on.

For the rest of the post, I give a brief summary and my takeaways and recommendation for you.

Summary of Skill with People

Understanding people and human nature simply involves recognizing people for how they think and what they are:


Put another way, any given person is 1000x more interested in themselves than they are in you.Once you understand most people care primarily about themselves, you can start creating great social situations. Next time you talk to someone, put 100% of your focus on looking to make that person feel special and wanted. Ask them good, penetrating, and thoughtful questions about their life – it doesn’t really matter about what.

Actionable Steps and Tips

Like I mentioned above, Skill with People is PACKED with actionable steps on interacting with others. These subjects include 10 “how-to’s”:

  • How to Skillfully Talk to People
    • Talk to people about the most interesting subject – THEMSELVES!
    • Remove the following words from your vocaulary: “I, me, my, mine”
  • How to Skillfully Make People Feel Important
    • Listening to them and complimenting them (when appropriate) are 2 great ways to making people feel important.
  • How to Skillfully Agree with People
    • Try to be naturally agreeable – no one likes to be disagreed with. Don’t start arguments.
  • How to Skillfully Listen to People
    • Look at the person talking. A person worth listening to is a person worth looking at.
    • Stick to the speaker’s subject and ask follow-up questions on the topic.
  • How to Skillfully Influence People
    • Find out what people want, and then work towards helping them reach their goal or target.
  • How to Skillfully Make up People’s Minds
    • Give reasons for them to say yes to you. Provide clear benefits for your proposal.
  • How to Skillfully Set People’s Moods
    • Be a leader in your interactions and create a happy environment. Next time you see a friend, co-worker, or family member, SMILE! 🙂 🙂
  • How to Skillfully Praise People
    • Praise and be grateful when people help you out or do something amazing. Sincerity is key.
  • How to Skillfully Critique People
    • Critique in private. Make criticism impersonal and on the act, never on the person.
  • How to Skillfully Thank People
    • Thank people for a specific action and task, and include their name: “Thank you Mary for your great work at quarter-end, we could not have done it without you.”

By applying each of these points, you will see great success in your social interactions.

My Takeaways

With all books I read, I look to have a few takeaways and actionable steps for me to apply in my life. Skill with People is packed with actionable items.

The 3 main takeaways I’m looking to focus on in the near future are:

  • I’m going to focus on talking to people about their favorite subject (themselves)
    • Who is the most important person in the world? It’s you!
  • I will look to critique more skillfully
    • Skill with People goes into 7 ways to critique people – one of which I find good: make criticism impersonal – criticize the act, never the person.
  • Be a leader in my interactions by setting other people’s moods appropriately.
    • When I see a friend, family member, co-worker, etc., I will give them a big smile and tell them I’m happy to see them 🙂

What excites me about my continued pursuit of self development is I can always learn more and become better. I read Skill with People about a year and a half ago and I had new thoughts and new takeaways. Given the book is less than 50 pages, I’m going to read it at least every 3 months to refresh my memory on communication, emotional intelligence, and interacting effectively with others.

“Knowledge itself is of no value. It is THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE that makes it valuable. Putting this thought another way – life does not pay off for you on what you can do. Life pays off for you on what you do. ” – Les Giblin

Our Recommendation for Skill With People

You need to read Skill with People. Skill with People is written in a very simple manner, yet it’s teachings are so profound. I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, while I thought it was good, Skill with People was both shorter and had more actionable steps. I wish I’d read it a few months back – being good with people, both on a conversation, but also an emotional  level, is key for success in the world.

For me, I want to focus on talking to people about their favorite subject (themselves), looking to critique more skillfully, and to set other people’s moods appropriately. By doing incorporating these action steps into my daily life, I will display more skill with people.

Do you look to get people talking about themselves? What tips do you have for dealing with people? Do you enjoy reading books on communication and human interaction?Save