Below are 3 books that have changed how I think about life. There are quite a few books in this category (books that I credit with changing my life, or at least changing how I think) but below are 3 that I keep on my bookshelf and often look back into, or re-read.
The three books are:
In a nutshell
The book is set in ancient Babylon, and has short stories (or parables) of different characters. Through their lives the characters discuss money, investing, luck/opportunity, insurance, risk and a number of other concepts relevant to saving, investing and making (and keeping!) your money. Advice is given from rich characters such as the richest man in Babylon.
Why it was so good
Book provides simple practical tips and ways to think like the richest man in Babylon and reduce your debt and grow your wealth accordingly. Probably every other book on money and investing has ideas which originated from this book.
The information is not complicated but useful and sometimes profound (luck = opportunity + preparedness).
The book was written a long time ago and sometimes (rarely) seems a bit dated. The internet and probably even credit cards weren’t around when this book was written. But the information in The Richest Man in Babylon is timeless –so it is a small drawback.
Tim Feriss has a number of websites that sell products (such as information products) that are completely automated. He spends minimal time on his websites (like a policeman keeping the peace or fixing incidents). With the rest of his time he takes mini-retirements and learns new languages and skills.
The book mainly focuses on three topics:
1. Internet business
2. The new rich
3. Outsourcing your work and life
In a nutshell – Internet Business
Find something that people are willing to pay for. This could be either:
- Products/Service – could be a overseas product that is not available where you live
- Information -Find a niche that people would be willing to pay for (e.g. there isn’t much good free information on X topic).
Create a way to sell the above product/service/information and create a website to do it automatically.
The above works best when it is something that you are passionate about or have knowledge about.
In a nutshell – the new rich
What is the point of being rich if you can only spend money when you retire? Why not have a good time now? Tim Ferris goes through examples of how the current way we work and live Is to defer happiness for a set time (like when we retire, etc.). Why not try to achieve what you always wanted to do now?
This is best illustrated when he asks an investment banker/CEO what they want to do most in the world. What they would do when they … (insert the blank here, retired, made $1 million dollars, became CEO, etc.)
Their answers included living in Thailand or Brazil for 3 months, or motor biking across the outback, etc.
You don’t need to be a millionaire to live for 3 months as a king in Brazil or Thailand (or insert your country here). So why not save up and take 3-6 months and do it – maybe between jobs? Or ask for leave from your work.
The book also explains how to gradually wean your boss off your working in the office and be more productive working from home part of the time.
In a nutshell – Outsource your work and life
A lot of this book goes against what you would have been taught or would have guessed.
In fact, it reminds me of the episode in Seinfield where George decides that because everything he has been doing hasn’t been working, that he should do –‘the opposite’. And I think that the 4 hour workweek is a bit of ‘the opposite’ that we should put into practice.
In outsourcing your work and life, Tim Ferriss talks about only doing what you need to -and getting a virtual assistant (someone over the internet) to help you do the rest.
Getting someone in another country to help you do things seems fraught with danger.
But the idea of only doing what you need to is great. How much stuff do you do (that takes up your time) that: a. could be done by someone else, b. you don’t really need to do.
I particularly love his stance on emails. There are so many emails that are sent and received that at the end of the day are just time wasters.
Why it was so good
The book provides a lot of practical resources (mostly websites) to get you started. The updated version provides a number of stories/comments from people who have followed his advice to be successful.
This is one of those books that every three months you need to dust it off and read it again to see actually how you are doing.
American -Obviously the book provides a lot of American websites and resources. From looking at some (the book has heaps of good tips that I haven’t had time to check yet!) they only work in America. Others though are very good.
There is a lot of self-help out there that says be positive, you deserve everything the world has in store for you… blah blah blah.
This book is the opposite. It says that these are the key fundamental mindsets that you need to enrich your life and others.
In a nutshell
The 7 habits involve you focusing on yourself (internally) and how you can change your thinking to be a better person. Then focusing on other people (externally) and how you relate to them.
The 7 habits include ways to view the world, how to deal with other people, and how to look after yourself.
Why it was so good
Because so much contained in ‘self help’ books are what I call ‘tricks’, to do things like get rich or lose weight, it is hard to describe the book without creating a cheesy vibe. But the 7 habits book is authentic. The many examples (which are often good descriptions of real life scenarios) make you look at your life through fresh eyes. And while it the changes that you make won’t help you ‘lose a dress size in 10 days’, the habits will change the way you look at life.
Although the book was written in the 80’s it has only dated slightly.