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Here’s to Success Finding ‘How to Succeed’ Books

how_to_sell_your_business_cover.jpgBooks have always been important to me. Once I acted on a very specific piece of advice from How to Sell Your Business and Get What You Want and earned, in the space of six months, more money than I’d ever had in my entire life before then.

Rarely is the value a book delivers quantifiable in dollars; most often it’s an immeasurable dose of pleasure or inspiration. Think about it: how else can you acquire, for only fifteen or twenty dollars, the fruits of a thousand hours of someone’s thought and hard labor?

So today I’ll describe eight other books that have had a big impact on my life; that have shaped Soul Shelter’s twin themes of Fortune and Fulfillment.

First up, my favorite pick in the Fortune category: The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason.richest_man_in_babylon_cover.jpg

This is one of the rare books that addresses the nature and meaning of work, not simply ways to grow wealthy. Through parables set in ancient Babylon, it reveals timeless laws of wealth creation, the most important of which is summarized in three words: Pay yourself first. It was published in 1926, so the style and language may not resonate strongly with younger (let’s say pre-AARP) readers.

think_and_grow_rich_cover_.jpgNext up is a generational stalwart: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Abundant with anecdotes, this classic is based on the idea that whatever thoughts predominate in one’s mind tend to manifest themselves in reality (a sound notion backed by the Thomas Theorum). Think and Grow Rich may be dated, but it still turns my crank. See if it turns yours.

Batting third is Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, whose mention will undoubtedly make J.D., my blogging mentor,rich_dad_poor_dad_cover_.jpg roll his eyes. But Rich Dad, Poor Dad strikes a chord with me because it advocates entrepreneurship, and it’s written in a folksy, easily understood style with plenty of stories (my favorite is Kiyosaki’s admission—to a Singapore journalist critical of the Hawaii-born author’s writing skills—that he’s a “best-selling, not a best-writing” author).

Rich Dad, Poor Dad teaches the difference between assets and liabilities, explains why your home is a liability, and offers powerful arguments for self-employment. Just because it’s sold 30 million copies doesn’t mean it’s a bad book.

millionaire_next_door_.jpgIn the cleanup position is The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The most recent of my three picks, Millionaire Next Door is like a follow-up to Rich Dad, Poor Dad because it empirically demonstrates that self-employment is the most practical road to wealth for most people (Stanley is an academic who studied millionaires and discovered that most are small business owners living normal lives in ordinary neighborhoods like you and me). A strong endorsement of the basic message of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

OK, enough about fortune. On to the second half of the equation: Fulfillment!

Leading off is Be Here Now by Ram Dass. The key point of this extraordinary book is that now is all we have—there is no yesterday or today,be_here_now_cover_.jpg at least not in any way that we can experience them. There is the “now” that we experienced yesterday, and there is the “now” that will come tomorrow, but since it is always “now,” we’ll do best to try to live, well, now, or “in the moment.” On car trips my young son Ray used to continually ask “are we here yet?” I kept answering “yes” until he got the point. A terrific introduction to eastern spiritual thinking.

as_a_man_thinketh_cover.jpgBatting second is James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh, about which I posted the week before last. Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, and a host of other self-help gurus copped key licks from Allen, who wrote:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts … Most of us are anxious to improve our circumstances, but are unwilling to improve ourselves.


tao_teh_king_bahm_cover.jpgThird up and swinging the world’s heftiest bat is the Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu, my favorite philosophy book. Make sure you get the Archie J. Bahm translation: its crystalline poetic logic stands in stark contrast to those literal—not literary—translations featuring ponderous, baffling prose. Reading Bahm’s edition, your mind will be boggled that such astounding wisdom has been around for thousands of years—and what a difference good translation makes.

In the cleanup slot, we have The Prosperous Peasant, a book of parables built upon true historical events surroundinprosperous_peasant_cover.jpgg Japan’s most extraordinary leader, a sixteenth century peasant-turned-samurai who achieved mind-blowing wealth and success, only to precipitate his own downfall with ill-advised overseas invasions (sound familiar?). I love The Prosperous Peasant because it uses the classic storytelling method to reveal millenniums-old wisdom more fundamental than any “how to” advice (an opinion only slightly tinged by the fact that I wrote it together with novelist/Soul Shelter partner Mark Cunningham).

So there you have it: Eight outstanding books pointing ways toward fortune and fulfillment. What books have made the most impact on your life? Send a short note to “authors” at this domain, and we’ll post some responses—and reward the writer of the most intriguing submission with a free, signed copy of The Prosperous Peasant.

Here are some more Soul Shelter posts about books and writing:

Simplify, simplify!

Fulfillment: A Work in Progress

Steve Martin Tells the Story Before the Glory

6 Comments to Here’s to Success Finding ‘How to Succeed’ Books

On Mar 6, 2008, Dwight commented:

I know this blog is about more than selling books, but I’d like to say I’m enjoying “The Prosperous Peasant”.

I have ordered “The Green Age of Asher Witherow.” I think I’ll get to camp in the desert one weekend before summer. That’s the book I want to read when I get there.

On Mar 6, 2008, by Tim commented:

Thanks, Dwight. When you read Green Age you’ll understand why Mark is the world’s only 30-year-old centenarian novelist!

Happy camping!

On Mar 6, 2008, Mark commented:

Dwight, As you know from The Prosperous Peasant and this blog of ours, we believe in gratitude. So I must take this opportunity to pass my thanks along to you. I hope The Green Age proves meaningful and memorable. (I daresay the desert might just be a fine setting for your reading!) ~Mark

On Mar 7, 2008, kevin commented:

Good choices, I’ve got “The Prosperous Peasant,” “Think and Grow Rich,” and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” under my belt. Looks like I have five more to go.

On Mar 10, 2008, by Tim commented:

… and there are so many more. Now I’m reading “The 4-Hour Workweek”—terrific!

On Dec 23, 2009, L B V Prasad commented:

Dear Readers,

Think & Grow Rich has had a profound influence on my life.

Two things i owe all my success to :-

1) Divine Grace (God’s Grace)
2) Think & grow rich – napoleon hill.

I strongly urge you to read this great book.

best regards
LBV Prasad

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