I’m smack in the middle of a personal challenge to read at least one book every week. The erudition section of this blog is my attempt to chronicle my challenge and galvanize a lifetime of curiosity and learning. If you have read any of these books before, or happen to pick one up and find it interesting, I’d love to hear your thoughts too.
First, the bad: MJ DeMarco isn’t an elegant writer, nor is he particularly scholarly in the way some business-minded people are. Just take a look at his blog where he posts videos of himself sitting poolside in his mansion, wearing a backwards ball cap, and seriously discussing the parallels of a supermarket conveyor belt and business strategies.
DeMarco also seems to be a lucky dot-com millionaire. He started and sold a limousine chartering website for both limo rental companies and individuals looking for limos. Now that’s a pretty good gig, considering how most people looking for limos are also either looking to spend a bunch of money on a special occasion, or have a bunch of money to spend regardless.
But I think the good outweighs the bad: DeMarco never claims to be a lucky dot-com millionaire. Instead, he analyzes what made him successful and provides a pseudo-mathematical formula for creating a scalable business. He attacks conventional wisdom and exposes the faults and fallacies of other finance “gurus.” He speaks the truth of wealth creation—that it requires raw, uncut hard work. He gives some practical advice for entrepreneurs and business owners, and even has some smart passages on investing. And he does all this in a casual and fun voice that makes the book enjoyable.
See the Process Behind the Product
I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
Unequivocally, the most important lesson from The Millionaire Fastlane is a change in perspective. DeMarco worked seven days a week to build his business. He talks endlessly of this fact, and with good reason. Building something of value takes hard work. When you go to the movies, think of how much work it took to create this 2-hour feature. When you buy a product, take notice of the complete package: the product design, the manufacturing, the advertising, the sales and distribution—it all comes together into this one product. And one person had to imagine it, all of it, before it was created. You think it takes just luck to become a millionaire? No. It takes luck and hard work, and ninety-nine percent of the population can’t even imagine how much work it would take to create something of value.
Since reading his book, I’ve made a ritual of trying to see the process behind the product. It’s hard. Like really friggin’ hard. But, partly thanks to this book and partly to other business books, I’m beginning—just beginning—to realize what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I’ve only begun my forays into the world of business, and I’m sure I have much to learn, but it feels good to know I’m relatively on the right track.
Final Rating: 4/5 stars
If you are a beginning entrepreneur or business owner, I definitely recommend The Millionaire Fastlane. It will supply you with a much needed kick in the arse with an overarching optimistic lesson: it is possible to be free of financial worries. If you create something of value that satisfies the conditions DeMarco talks about, then you are well on your way to wealth.
Favorite Passages and Quotes
“All self-made millionaires create their wealth by a carefully orchestrated process. They have and use the entire formula. Despite what you may have read or heard, wealth is not an event. Wealth doesn’t drop from the sky or come from a game show. It doesn’t ring the doorbell and await you on the front porch with balloons and a check the size of a refrigerator. Wealth does not chime from a machine with spinning bars, lemons, and cherries.
Wealth is a process, not an event.” —pg. 22
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“People who declare, ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness’ have already concluded they will never have money.” —pg. 45
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“Money doesn’t buy happiness when it’s misused. Instead of money buying freedom, it buys bondage. ‘Wealth’ and ‘happiness’ are interchangeable, but only if your definition of wealth hasn’t been corrupted by society’s definition. Society says wealth is ‘stuff,’ and because of this faulty definition, the bridge between wealth and happiness collapses. When you don’t feel wealthy, you’re likely trying to conjure that feeling. You buy icons of wealth to feel wealthy. You crave feelings, respect, pride, and joy. You want admiration, love, and acceptance. And what are these feelings supposed to do for you? You expect deliverance into happiness. You want to be happy!
“And that’s the bait. We equate the corrupted definition of wealth with happiness, and when it doesn’t deliver, expectations are violated and unhappiness is the consequence.” —pg. 47
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“If you don’t control your income, you don’t control your financial plan. If you don’t control your financial plan, you don’t control your freedom.” —pg. 75
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“Your choices spark the fires of future consequences.” —pg. 156
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“Value your time poorly and you will be poor.” —pg. 179
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“I saw a picture the other day of a student publicly protesting one of the government financial bailouts. She hoisted a large placard that read: ‘I’ve got a 4.0 GPA, $90,000 in debt and no job—where’s my bailout?’ Where’s your bailout? Let me tell ya, walk into the bathroom, flip on the light-switch and look in the freaking mirror. There’s your bailout. I’m tired of sob stories from well-intended students who graduate from college with mountains of debt and can’t get a job. Take responsibility. You bought into the myth that college ensures a job. The fact is, when you allow market forces to rive your vehicle you’re likely to end on the street with a homemade poster proclaiming the value of your 4.0 GPA and the crushing burden of your six-figure debt.” —pg. 192
Note: This kind of no-nonsense criticism is rampant throughout the book. And I love it. Makes for some entertaining and much-needed conventional wisdom detoxing.
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“The sweat of success is failure.” —pg. 197
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“‘A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.’” —pg. 198
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“It is easier to live in regret of failure than in regret of never trying.” —pg. 199
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“If you want to live unlike everyone, you can’t be like everyone.” —pg. 223
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“At the heart of entrepreneurship is creation and innovation.” —pg. 229
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“Billionaire Mark Cuban recently wrote on his blog that it doesn’t matter how many times you strike out in business because you only have to be right once, and that ‘once’ can set you up for life. In other words, be in the business of home runs.” —pg. 233
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“Entrepreneurs struggle to differentiate between idea and execution. They think ideas are worth millions, when success is never about the idea but the execution.” —pg. 267