I swung by the library the other day and saw a book that looked interesting, so I brought it home. It is a type of book that absolutely litters the personal finance aisle at bookstores and libraries. That's fine, I'm all for free speech, but it does make it harder to find the really good books out there.
The book is called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, by a fellow called T. Harv Eker. My first clue that I should have put it back on the shelf was an endorsement by Robert G. Allen on the back. One of my first rules for taking financial advice is to not take it from people who are broke or who have gone broke. It isn't that hard not to go broke in this life. You really only need to spend less than you earn, invest without leverage, and insure well. So I am deeply skeptical of advice from those who have gone bankrupt like Allen. I don't think Mr. Eker has gone bankrupt, but his book (and seminars) are in a similar style to Allen's.
The basic premise of the book is that you're not rich because you don't think like “Rich People” (which he never defines) do. So in the book he tries to teach you how rich people think. I was expecting something along the lines of The Millionaire Next Door. What I got was more Stuart Smalley. After each section he suggests you touch your heart and repeat “a declaration” and then touch your head and say “I've got a millionaire mind.” Then he suggests you read the book every month like scripture. He also suggests you take certain “millionaire actions.” These had me rolling on the floor laughing. But I'll get back to those later.
There actually are some good points made in the book. You do need a certain mindset in order to increase your wealth. Like anything in life, you become what you desire. Desires do lead to thoughts, thoughts do lead to words, words do lead to actions, and actions do produce certain results. I suspect many people are held back in life not only by their lack of money knowledge (which the book spends little time on) but also by their attitudes about money, many of which come from their upbringing. Increasing your knowledge and adjusting your attitude probably are important. He lists 17 “Wealth Files” which are actually pretty good, at least in theory. Read these and you can probably skip the rest of the book completely.
- 1) Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”
- 2) Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
- 3) Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
- 4) Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
- 5) Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
- 6) Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
- 7) Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
- 8) Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
- 9) Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
- 10) Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
- 11) Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
- 12) Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”
- 13) Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
- 14) Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
- 15) Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
- 16) Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
- 17) Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
There are a lot of other little gems in the book as well, such as these:
- Money is extremely important in the areas in which it works, and extremely unimportant in the areas in which it doesn't.
- When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing “crap magnet.”
- There is no such thing as a really rich “victim.”
- You will be paid in direct proportion to the value you deliver according to the marketplace.
- Money will only make you more of what you already are.
- How you do anything is how you do everything.
- Focus on all four net worth factors: increasing your income, savings, and investment returns and decreasing your cost of living by simplifying your lifestyle
- Never have a ceiling on your income
- Until you show you can handle what you've got, you won't get any more.
- The habit of managing your money is more important than the amount.
- To get paid the best, you must be the best.
So, I think there is some wisdom there, and it's usually a good idea to pick up wisdom wherever you can, even in a self-serving get-rich-quick book like this one. Now, on to the real problems I have with the book.
First, the whole thing is an advertisement for his seminars. Even the front cover advertises a “Free Bonus- Two tickets to the Millionaire Mind Seminar, Worth $2,590- Details inside. Well, if going to a seminar where quotes like those above are interspersed with a hard-sell of his expensive “Get Rich Quick” products like CDs and other materials is your idea of a $2590 value, feel free to attend. But I suggest you read online reviews of the seminar first, such as this one:
Harv is a rip-off. I used to work for the company and heard Harv and others make jokes about how easy it was to rip people off. It's ALL about the money.
The MMI is actually a good seminar, if you eliminate the hard sell. But in it, he DOES put you into NLP-based light hypnotic trance and then hit you with a sales pitch, which is unethical! He whips people into an us/them mentality with the Warrior Camp “AHO!” – everyone wants to be in with the “in” crowd, and he starts building the concept of “we're in and you're not if you don't buy these seminars” from the very first moments.
Second, he never really gets around to defining what rich means. When he does use specific examples, the monthly incomes he's talking about are those of a typical physician. According to Harv, you must already be rich. I agree. Most physicians have already won the “money game.” All they need to do now is not throw it away. Save 20% of your income, invest it in a reasonable way, and by the time you retire, you should be independently wealthy and certainly meet Mr. Eker's vague definition of “rich.”
Third, his suggested actions are not only stupid, but probably detrimental to the process. Here are just a few of them:
- Go to an upscale restaurant and order a meal at “market price” without asking how much it costs. (If funds are tight, sharing is acceptable.)
- Drive around and buy magazines, look at beautiful homes, gorgeous cars, and read about successful people. Whatever you see that you like, bless it, and bless the owners.
- Join a high-end club, such as for tennis, health, business, or golf. Mingle with rich people in a rich environment. Or, if there's no way you can afford to join a high-end club, have coffee or tea in the classiest hotel in your city. Get comfortable in this atmosphere and watch the patrons, noticing they're no different from you.
- Pamper yourself. Once a month do something special to nurture yourself and your spirit. Get a massage…a pedicure….have someone bring you breakfast in bed.
It's almost as if his suggestion is “fake it until you make it” but what bothers me the most is that his idea of being rich is focused on being able to consume luxuries, rather than on having the financial freedom to do what you want to do. I much prefer the “stealth wealth” approach.
This book is a good example of the genre written by those who are trying to sell you something. Allen, Kiyosaki, and dozens of other similar authors have entire series of these books. They're not all that well-written, but they are well-marketed. They may not help you get rich, but they certainly helped the authors to do so. An occasional read of these motivational books isn't going to hurt you, but it isn't where I'd recommend a physician interested in learning more about finance and investing spend her time. Most docs are lacking in financial knowledge, not motivation. You're probably better off with one of these books instead.
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Image Credit: Vmenkov, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia