Nicholas's Reviews > How to Get Rich

How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis
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's review
Oct 22, 10

bookshelves: biography-memoir, business, lifestyle
Read in August, 2010

** spoiler alert ** An absolute must read.

Do you really want to be rich. Before you start this, ask yourself if there is a way to get what you want without getting rich. You have to know what you want first though.


"Money is always welcome. But no. Very, very few authors become rich. The odds against it are too steep."

"Just how quickly can I become rich? Quicker than you probably deserve, but slower than you would like."

"Do I have to read your book from beginning to end? No. Dip in and out as you like. Make notes. Jot down points you think apply, particularly to your situation and your personality. Or make no notes at all-just highlight sentences or examples that catch your fancy."

"A book is a tool, not an artifact."

"Tunnel vision helps. Being a bit of a shit helps. A think skin helps. Stamina is crucial, as is a capacity to work so hard that your best friends mock you, your lovers despair and the rest of your acquaintances watch furtively from the sidelines, half in awe and half in contempt. Luck helps - but only if you don't seek it."

"Rich enough to live where you want, to go where you want, to do what you want, to meet who you want. Rich enough to buy the only two things apart from health and love worth fussing about in life. Time. And the option of not having to be in any particular place on any particular day doing any particular thing in order to pay the rent or the mortgage."

"Never trust the vast mountain of conventional wisdom. It contains great nuggets of wisdom, it is true. Bu they lie alongside rivers of fool's gold. Conventional wisdom daunts initiative and offers far to many convenient reasons for inaction, especially for those with a great deal to lose. Fortunately for you, you do not have anything to lose and can afford to ignore the "jobsworths" and Jeremiahs who have lived upon the mountain for so long that they have come to worship it."

"Anyone not busy learning is busy dying. For as long as you foster a willingness to learn, you will ward off sclerosis of the brain and hardening of the mental arteries."

"You have little time left in which to make up your mind. Your youth and stamina are ebbing away. You are getting too comfortable."

"And you know what? The kids and the house and the mortgage and your retired parents and the love you your life (whether a man or a woman) and all your current responsibilities - they are not the real problem. They are either inanimate, or they love you, or they don't love you. They will not love you less (or more) if you decide to surprise everyone around you and seize the time. As you could seize it, if you truly wished to. Then you'd show them." (Is this just narcissism? Why would they care more about you and yours than them and theirs.)

"If you are unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly, and even catastrophically, you stand very little chance of ever getting rich. If you care what your neighbors think, you will never get rich. If you cannot bear the thought of causing worry to your family, spouse or lover while you plow a lonely, dangerous road rather than taking the safe option of a regular job, you will never get rich. If you have artistic inclinations and fear that the search for wealth will coarsen such talents or degrade them, you will never get rich. (Because your fear, in this instance, is well justified.) If you are not prepared to work longer hours than almost anyone you know, despite the jibes of colleagues and friends, you are unlikely to get rich. If you cannot convince yourself that you are "good enough" to be rich, you will never get rich. If you cannot treat your quest to get rich as a game, you will never be rich. If you cannot face up to your fear of failure, you will never be rich."

"For make no mistake, if you will not confront and harness this all-too-human emotion in one way or another, they you are doomed to remain relatively poor. You either get over it, go around it, go at it, mount it, duck under it or cozy up to it. But you cannot surrender to it. That way lies paralysis, prevarication, ignominy and defeat."

"If you shy away for any reason whatever, then the way is blocked. The gate is shut - and will remain shut."

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy; the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elemental truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one commits oneself, Providence moves all. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would come his or her way."

"If you want to be rich, you are not looking for a "career," except as a launch pad or as a chance to infiltrate and understand a particular industry. A job for the rich-in-training is merely something to keep you ticking over, to put food on your plate and wine in your glass."

"Working for others is a reconnaissance expedition; a means and not an end in itself. It is an apprenticeship and not a goal."

"Team spirit is for losers, financially speaking. It's the glue that binds the losers together. It's the methodology employers use to shackle useful employees to their desks without having to pay them too much. While lives may depend on it in a few professions, like soldering or firefighting, in commerce it acts as a subtle handicap and a brake to ambitious individuals. Which, in a way, is what it's designed to do."

"First off, forget glamorous. One of the riches self-made men I know digs holes in the ground to dispose of household waste. That's not how his company describes itself in its annual report, but essentially that is what it does, along with building incineration plants. Glamorous? No. But in a good year he puts 20-30 million pounds on the bottom line and earns a gross margin of over 20 percent. That's a sensational result for a small, wholly owned private company. Not to mention that the relentless growth of the packaged-goods industry ensures that his business will grow and grow virtually by default - providing he can find enough places to dig holes, that is. While you may not necessarily want to be in a glamorous sector of any market, and they are often very crowded sectors, it helps to be in a growing one. Swimming with the tide rather than against it, so to speak. A swelling tide raises all boats, including yours. On the other side of the "glamorous" coin, very few of those who want their picture on the front cover of Vogue, or wish to become a movie director or to run the coolest PR company in the world, get to achieve anything. The reason is obvious. The laws of supply and demand are absolute - and they apply not only to commodities, but to people. Too many people want to make a blockbuster movie and live in Beverly Hills. Not enough people want to dig holes."

"So how do you judge your own aptitudes? Trial and error is the only way I ever heard of. The problem is that we create an image of ourselves in our childhood and youth (often at the urging of parents, siblings or friends), and subsequently attempt to graft reality onto this image. More often than not, the graft doesn't take and the result is bewilderment and disappointment. Far better ruthlessly analyze what your particular aptitudes are and act upon them rather than attempt to graft an oak tree onto a dandelion."

"You must choose. Life is comfortable enough in the Western world for most people. In most parts of Europe there are the safety nets of the social services and of government-subsidized medical care. There are decent jobs at decent salaries with decent colleagues and a decent retirement; and all without the heart-stopping fear of bankruptcy, of years of risk amid fears of ignominious failure. Why do handstands on the rim of hell? Why bother to punish yourself in such a way? Nobody else does it - why should you? Go on, make everyone around you happy. Why not give in?"

"Talent is usually conscious of its own value. But the currency of that value is not necessarily a million-dollar salary. The opportunity to prove themselves, and sometimes the chance to run the show on a day-to-day basis, will often do the trick just as well. This holds true even if talent is placed in the driver's seat of a small division within an existing operation. What talent seeks, as often as not, is the chance to prove itself and the opportunity to excel."

"Truly. Do you believe in yourself? Do you? If you do not, and, worse still, if you believe you never can believe, then by all means go on reading this book. But take it from me, your only chance of getting rich will come from the lottery or inheritance. If you will not believe in yourself, then why should anyone else. Without self-belief nothing can be accomplished. With it, nothing is impossible. It is as brutal and as black and white at that. If you take no other memory from this book, then take that single thought. It was worth a damn sight more than the price you paid for it."

"Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
And they came
and he pushed
and they flew..."

pg 164 Negotiation tips.

"Choose a rogue element to your advantage and bring it into the negotiation at a late stage. You'll be amazed at how often this tactic produces results."

"But a public company exists only to boost its share price, and its share price is determined, incredibly enough, by "analysts" - spotty-faced youths who live on another planet where growth-at-any-price is the only deity one is encouraged to worship. Medium- or longterm strategies were for wimps and amateurs, in their estimation. This quarter's results, this quarter's growth, were the only things that mattered to them. It almost seemed, at times, as if profit was a dirty word. If we were making "profits," asked the "analysts," weren't we in danger of "wasting" money that could have been invested to produce more "growth"?"

"You won't get far if you attempt to financially "incentivize" the salt of the earth. Praise, the ability to discern when a good job has been done and the courtesy to say so, fairness, integrity and camaraderie should be employed instead. It takes more trouble than mere bribery, but it produces wonderful results."

"If I were writing a book about how to be happy, then I would recommend much to you along the same lines. Love of any work, diligently undertaken, no matter what it is, brings contentment and, eventually respect. But it will rarely bring you riches. And that is what you are reading this book for, is it not?"

Pg 250 onwards.

"There is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it. [Cicero]."

"Seeking substantial wealth is almost always a fool's game. The statistics show that very few people ever succeed. Most of them should never have made the attempt in the first place. They aren't suited to it, and if that sounds defeatist, then consider the fact that the search will take up a great deal of your waking life for many, many years."

"Time is finite. Which is a fancy way of saying that you only have so much of it - then it will run out. When you are young, time seems to stretch into the distance for so far that surely it will always be on your side? When the young catch the old unawares, they may sometimes glimpse a look of naked envy, which is then instantly disguised. And the old have reason to be envious. Truly, truly, they do. Ask me what I will give you if you could wave a magic wand and give me my youth back. The answer would be everything I own and everything I will ever own."

"If you are young and reading this then I ask you to remember just this: you are richer than anyone older than you, and far richer than those who are much older. What you choose to do with the time that stretches out before you is entirely a matter for you. But do not say you started the journey poor. If you are young, you are infinitely richer than I can ever be again."

"And yet you wish to waste your youth in the getting of money? Really? Think hard, my young cub, think hard and think long before you embark on such a quest. The time spent attempting to acquire wealth will mount up and cannot be reclaimed, whether you succeed or whether you fail."

"Wealth makes many demands and, by the time you have acquired it, you will be prey to certain habits. You will fear to lose it and must spend a great deal more time to defend it. No one is "independent" of the human race. "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." Heed the words of John Donne, finest of poets: "And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.""

"No luxury of choices for rich little you. You will be too busy keeping the sea from washing away the sand you have spent so long collecting at such terrible cost to your health and your sanity and your relationships with others. It is always thus. There is no escape. You believe (I know you do) that it will be different for you. But it won't be. It never is."

"I could do all those things without wealth. So why do I not give it all away? Because I worked too hard for it. Because I am tainted by it. Because I am afraid to. All those reasons and more. Perhaps, if I am lucky enough to become old, I will accumulate something else: the courage to give it all away before I die. That would be a good thing, I think."

"You have to cut loose to get rich. There isn't any other way."

"Firstly, they fear that you are placing yourself in harm's way - and, to them, that cannot be a good thing. Secondly, they fear that if you should succeed, you will expose their own timidity to the light of day."

"It isn't the money, you see. It is because you have humiliated them, in their minds anyway, both by succeeding and by valuing the time it took for you to succeed over their part in your life. And that, in a nutshell, is why it is so important to cut loose, especially in the early days."

"Commit or don't commit. No half-measures. Cut loose from all negative influences. Choose the right mountain. Fear nothing. Start now. Go!"

"1. Analyze your need. Desire is insufficient. Compulsion is mandatory.
2. Cut loose from negative influences. Never give in. Stay the course.
3. Ignore "great ideas." Concentrate on great execution.
4. Focus. Keep your eye on the ball marked "The Money is Here.
5. Hire talent smarter than you. Delegate. Share the annual pie.
6. Ownership is the real "secret." Hold on to every percentage point you can.
7. Sell before you need to, or when bored. Empty your mind when negotiating.
8. Fear nothing and no one. Get rich. Remember to give it all away."
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