Oh boy! It’s my click-baitest title ever!
Now before all you kids pelt me with soft, over-ripened tomatoes, allow me to explain. OH GOD WHY WON’T YOU ALL LET ME EXPLAIN.
Many people (myself included) think reading is a huge part of one’s success. A book is one of the best investments you can possibly make. For a price as low as zero dollars (thanks library!), you can get lessons it took great men decades to learn condensed down into a chapter or two. All it costs is a little time, which probably would have been squandered anyway.
What a fantastic return on investment.
There’s just one problem. Books promote a culture of inactivity. There’s an army of people who are nose deep in a book right now, trying to discover the true secret to getting rich. If only they read enough, they say, they’ll figure it out. It’s gotta be in here somewhere.
It won’t be. No book will ever contain the true secret to getting rich. Because ultimately, getting rich involves one thing.
There’s definitely a correlation between reading and becoming wealthy. There’s no doubt about that. Buffett reads a ton. So does Charlie Munger, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, and most other billionaires.
But there are notable exceptions. Let’s start at the top.
“Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.”
Yes, that quote is from the leader of the free world.
Much as we crap on Donald Trump, and much as Trump deserves it, he has been remarkably successful in his life. After becoming the most famous real estate developer in the world, the guy became a best-selling author (despite not even writing the damn book!). He followed that up by becoming one of the biggest stars on reality TV. And then, as an encore, the dude became the president of the freaking United States.
Trump’s secret to getting rich wasn’t reading or waiting for the best opportunity to strike. He simply went out and did stuff.
There’s an old expression about overnight successes. It takes 20 years of toiling in obscurity to become an overnight success. Guys like Donald Trump may have accelerated the process a little, but the point is still valid.
Here’s what happens. Somebody works hard at something, and then they get a little success. They keep on going and get a little more momentum. They keep building and building until these small successes start becoming medium-sized. And so on. By the time any of us notice, this person has already moved up to big things.
Meanwhile, the voracious reader is stuck at square one, still searching for the magic bullet. If only he read more books! Then he’d find the true secret to getting rich! It’s gotta be in one of these books somewhere…
There’s no secret to getting rich
Look, you all aren’t stupid. You’re smart people who are ambitious enough to try and improve your lives. You’re the best people, and I’m not just saying that because y’all read my thoughts every day.
Everyone reading this knows how to get rich. The secret is no secret. You have to create capital and put it to work in interesting opportunities. That might be through an index fund. Or it could be buying a trailer park, investing in private mortgages, or starting your own business. Part of the fun of this whole exercise is there’s no set path. There are just a number of similar guidelines everyone follows.
The closest thing there is to a secret is to just go out there and do stuff. If you already have the tools, it all comes down to execution. Don’t be the person who doesn’t do anything, paralyzed with his nose in a book. Research is encouraged, but all the research in the world doesn’t matter without taking risks.