The Internet is full of “from rags to riches” stories. But those stories usually try to sell you some course that will actually make some guru rich, right?
This is a success story, but not in the way you think.
I don’t drive a Ferrari. I don’t live in a mansion.
Instead, I’ve managed to quit the 9 to 5 race and achieve financial independence. I’ve built a location independent small business (while having a full-time job) that makes me some good cash.
I’ve read a lot of books. But there are 5 books that literally changed my life.
They’ve taught me how to:
- Have the business mindset of billionaires like Warren Buffet
- Convince and influence almost any person, from friends to clients
- Get more things done in less time
- Start a business while also having a 9 to 5 job (without getting burnout)
- Always feel motivated, happy and good about myself (even during hard times)
And now I want to share with you some key lessons from each book and how I applied them to my own life, to quit my job, to get clients for my business (yep, there are templates included) and so on.
Let’s dive right in.
Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
If you want to be financially free, if you want to make a lot of money (not overnight) without having to work for a boss the rest of your life, you should start with this book.
What’s so special about it?
Well, you won’t find any get-rich-quick tactics. If you are after magical pills, this isn’t for you.
But if you want to have the mindset that will help you become financially successful, you should read it.
Actually, read it at least two times.
Here’s a little secret most people who struggle financially don’t know.
Making more money isn’t just about information. If it were, everyone would be fit and healthy, right? We all know what we need to do to have six packs, right? So the information isn’t a problem.
What is it then?
It’s the mindset. Successful people think in different ways about money.
Here are some key lessons from this book:
Work to learn. Don’t work for money
My parents always taught me that if I want to be successful, I need to work hard (for others).
Kiyosaki says rich people work to learn the skills they need to achieve their goals.
I didn’t have a goal, so I thought what was the thing I desired most. What would be the perfect “job” for me?
So I wrote it down.
Then, I figured that if I want to have all these – make serious money, while not having to work for a boss – I have to learn how to sell things, how to influence people.
Whether is getting a better-paid job, getting a girl’s number or convince people to buy something from me, persuasion is crucial.
So I followed this advice and I started to work in for marketing company for free. I’ve learned the necessary skills.
Now I use the same skills to work for my own company, have my own clients, decide who I want to work with, when I get up and “go to work” and so on.
You see, I worked for free for a while. But that free work was only a part of my strategy to achieve my goal.
Buy things that make money for you
There’s a pattern that all poor people follow.
They work for money. Then they use that money to buy stuff to keep up with the Joneses – a bigger ca, a bigger house, a boat etc.
Then they go and work harder to pay for all the new stuff.
Rich people do quite the opposite. They invest in assets. This means stuff that makes them money. Like renting an apartment or investing in a new business. Or buying stock etc.
Here’s what I did after I’ve read this book while I was still in college.
I had $500 in savings as a student. I’ve had a friend who knew someone who owned a Facebook group of dog lovers.
So I talked to that friend to offer his friend $1000 to buy the group. And then we started selling dog clothes to an existing community.
You see, we didn’t make a lot of money. We don’t drive a Ferrari. What’s important here is the mentality.
Now I do the same with my own business. Instead of investing in a luxurious car, I spend the money to grow the business and get more clients.
Then I can buy the car or whatever, without having to work my ass off to pay for it.
Surround yourself with people smarter than you
There’s an old saying our parents probably all taught us that goes: “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas”.
What we were never taught is that the opposite of this is true too.
Observe rich people. Who are their friends? Rich (or even richer) people, right?
But that’s true in just about everything.
If you want to start a business, hang out with people who already own one. You’re not going to learn how to run a business from people who don’t own one, right?
How to Win Friends and Influence People
If you want to make more money, get new partners for your business, convince other people to buy from you or win friends at work, at a party or anywhere else, this is “The Bible” you should start with.
The book is full of practical advice that can help you have more success in any area of your life: relationships, work, money, friends, doesn’t matter.
Follow the advice in the book and you can influence literally anyone.
This is one of the first books I’ve read on personal development and it completely changed my life.
Here are just some key takeaways and how it helped me in different situations:
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
Think about the last time someone criticized you or your work.
Chances are, even if that person was right, you resented them, right?
Criticism puts people on the defense mode and instead of correcting their behavior, they will justify themselves
So, what can you do instead?
Here’s what I did when colleagues at work did something wrong.
The first thing I told myself was: “I should forgive them for this because …” and I ended up this sentence with an open mind. I put myself in their shoes and tried to understand why they did what they did.
Then I told the person something like this:
“Hey, John, I noticed you [insert what he did wrong]. I guess it was probably because [insert some excuse they would tell themselves].
Here’s an alternative how we could improve this.
You see how instead of being me vs. him or her, it’s we. And we try to improve things instead of trying to fix what he did wrong.
Of course, this applies to any human interaction. Whether it’s with your wife, with your employee, with a business partner or your kid, it doesn’t matter.
Here’s an email I sent to one of my designers I work with:
Remember: don’t criticize.
Give honest and sincere appreciation
You might think that this refers to flattery.
Quite the opposite. It goes hand in hand with the point above. Instead of criticizing people, try to see why a person did what he or she did (good or bad, doesn’t matter) and appreciate them.
Did they achieve some great results? Congratulate them.
Did they screw up? Appreciate them for trying and suggest a way to improve.
“OK, but people don’t like flattery!?” you might say.
And you are totally right.
So here’s how to avoid sounding fake: be specific.
Instead of saying: “I like your shirt”, try “I like how your blue shirt goes with your blue shoes”.
Or, if you’re sending an outreach email and you want to praise the person to make a connection or even ask for something, don’t be vague like: “I liked your article about this subject”.
Instead, show them what you actually found interesting:
Always let the other person talk. Ask questions and be interested in the other person
This will help you win more friends and clients than anything else.
Think about it. Who are you more interested in: you or me?
You, of course. It’s perfectly normal, right?
Here’s how I used this to close more clients for my dental marketing agency.
Usually, when you need help with some services, you’re somehow expecting the other person to try to pitch you, right?
So here’s what I did differently. Instead of boasting my skills and trying to convince them that I am the best marketer on the planet I asked a lot of questions.
I asked things like:
And of course, at each step, I suggested some useful tips.
You see, instead of me talking, I listened to their problems. And people felt that I am trying to help them.
Because only friends listen to you and try to help you out, right?
So here’s the bottom line:
Ask questions. Listen 75% of the time and talk only 25%. Always think of some ways you can encourage the other person to do more of the sharing.
Getting things done, by David Allen
Having a 9 to 5 job and struggling to start a side business is tough.
I had only a couple of hours left after work to:
- Learn new things
- Get the first client
- Work for the newly acquired clients
- Deliver great results
If you are trying to build a business or if you’re a solo entrepreneur, you know what I’m talking about. Since you don’t have much money, you have to do it all by yourself, right?
For some people this means creating a lot of content to prove your expertise and build a brand. For e-commerce business owners this means dealing with everything from inventory to promoting the store to handling customer service and so on.
Whatever the niche or the business type, you can get overwhelmed.
And when you are overwhelmed, you start taking bad decisions. Decisions that don’t help you progress.
And the final result is that you feel stuck. The business doesn’t grow. You don’t have any creative ideas anymore and so on.
So, how did I manage to do twice as more in half the time?
Here are just a couple of tricks I learned in Getting things done, by David Allen.
Organize your week and set priorities
I always felt that I was doing a lot of things, but I saw no results.
This is because I missed the big picture and I was keeping me busy, instead of being productive.
So here’s what I recommend you to do and avoid my mistakes.
Set aside half an hour or an hour at the beginning of each week (or in the weekend).
- What have you accomplished the prior week
- What you didn’t manage to do
- What you learned
- And what you want to achieve the week to come
But there’s one more trick here.
Things don’t always go as we plan. There’s always something unexpected or urgent going on during a week.
So you need to make sure the most important tasks – those that help you achieve your goal – get done first.
This is why priorities are so important. Getting the important things done first, you maximize your chances of reaching your goal.
Here’s how my weekly plan overview looks like:
Break tasks into actionable steps and assign a time-frame for each of them
Let’s say you want to write a book. If you create a task “write a book” chances are you’ll never make it through.
Well, because you’ll never feel that you’ve made some progress. Plus, it’s not a SMART goal because:
- It’s not specific
- It’s not measurable
- It’s not actionable
- It’s not realistic
- And it’s not time specific
If you assign a certain time frame to every task, you’ll:
- Be more realistic with what you can do and cannot do in 24 hours
- Have a clear vision of what you have to do
- Feel good when you finish a task
Here’s an example of how I used to plan my tasks:
See how vague they are? Not to mention that they’re not time bound and so on…
And how I do it now:
You see how I leave half an hour for each task as a buffer? Or how my schedule ends at 16:00 or 17:00 instead of trying to do everything till midnight?
Prepare for the inevitable
You feel motivated. You know you can do everything on your to-do list.
But then, something unexpected or urgent comes up and messes with your plans.
You didn’t finish your tasks for today and now you feel disappointed and soon overwhelmed.
Here’s how to avoid this.
Don’t fill up your calendar. Schedule a buffer time for unexpected matters. Block an hour or two each day for things you don’t expect.
If something does come up, you’ll be happy that you can handle it without messing up your plans.
If nothing comes up, you’ll be even happier because you’ve achieved your daily goals and now you have some extra free time to enjoy.
Do the most important things first and don’t check email first in the morning
These two go hand in hand.
What’s the trick?
First, you’ll never have in the evening the energy you have in the morning. So start doing the most difficult tasks in the morning. Especially if you are a writer, a marketer or you have some creative work to do.
Second, don’t check your email first in the morning.
Because emails usually mean more things to be taken care of. And you don’t want those to stay on your mind while you are trying to do something important.
This is another persuasion masterpiece. It’s a classic.
It has sold over three million copies and has been translated into thirty languages. It has been listed on the New York Times Best Seller list and Fortune lists it in their “75 Smartest Business Books”. It has been mentioned in 50 Psychology Classics.
And for a good reason. There are some simple rules that are so powerful that even if you aren’t aware of them, you’ll still be influenced by them.
Here are some key takeaways and how they helped me in different areas.
Liking – we prefer to say yes to the requests of people we know and like
This is quite a general advice. So, how do you make people like you, right?
There’s a lot of ways.
One of them is being sincere and… even awkward.
Here’s how the email I sent to John to ask if I can write on this website started:
You see, we live in a world where we try to be perfect and come up with the perfect reasons for the things we want. But sometimes all you need is say exactly what you think.
Commitment & consistency – We tend to be consistent with what we have already done
The best example of this is Mc Donald’s.
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Would you like fries with that?”
This is a perfect example of an up-sell that has sold millions more fries each year.
But why does it work so well?
Dr. Cialdini says that “once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
Now you might wonder what are some other areas you could use this.
To sell more and much easier to your clients
In my business, instead of asking people to inquire about my services, I ask them to request a free consultation.
Because once they’ve taken a small step with no strings attached, they’ll feel more inclined to stick with their original decision (which is to work with me). Just like Mc Donald’s does.
With coworkers or employees
Let’s say you want them to send you a document. Instead of saying: “Please send that document to me” try “Will you send that document?”.
What’s the difference?
The difference is that you make the other person commit publicly. And once they commit publicly, there will be some internal forces acting on that person to stay consistent with the earlier decision.
I think this is one of the most powerful persuasion tools a man can have.
Do you know why social proof is so powerful?
Because long ago, our ancestors understood that, in order to maximize their chances for survival, it was in their best interests to form groups of like-minded individuals.
So they lived in groups, hunted in groups, protected each other in groups. Everyone had a vital role that contributed to the success of the entire tribe.
When the group ate, you ate. When it slept, you slept. When it packed up and moved, you moved. If it died…well, you get the picture.
We have a powerful psychological need to belong. Our brains are hard-wired to follow others, especially when we don’t have enough information to make a decision by ourselves.
And the best part…
…you can use this just about in any area of your life
To get clients
When I quit my job, I entered into a totally new domain – marketing. So basically my portfolio was non-existent.
What did I do?
I wrote some articles, for free, on some other websites.
Then, when I pitched clients to get work (to write articles for them), I referenced those free guest posts as a social proof.
To influence friends
Let’s say you want to convince your friends to go to a bar you like.
But saying “let’s go there, because I like it there” might sound selfish. And it’s not a good argument, right?
What you could do instead is mention how other people or other friends always go there and have a great time. Or how popular that bar is becoming.
To be more popular
Want to have more friends, be appreciated more often by more people? Copy this trick from influencers.
If you look on an influencer’s page (especially those who aren’t yet quite so popular), they always have pictures with other people.
Because in this way they communicate to your subconscious that they are popular. If they are always surrounded by other people, it must be because they’re cool, right?
You can also read: Why we all need executive leadership coaching
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Imagine having a handbook that can help you live a fulfilled, happy life. Imagine having a handbook to handle any difficult situation in life, from going bankrupt, to getting fired or even death of the loved ones.
This is what this book is about.
Here are some key lessons and how this book changed my life:
Memento Mori – Someday we all die
Memento mori is the ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is “about nothing else but dying and being dead.”
Don’t think of it as a morbid practice. Don’t get depressed.
Used properly memento mori is a tool to create priority and meaning. To treat our time as a gift and not waste it on the trivial and vain.
Death doesn’t make life pointless but rather purposeful. And fortunately, we don’t have to nearly die to tap into this.
A simple reminder can bring us closer to living the life we want.
I used this to:
1) Establish and work on specific goals in life
We all want to live a rich and fulfilling life. The problem is, most people think that one day it will “just happen”.
But the truth is unless you’re very lucky and win the lottery, it won’t. So you have to know what you want to achieve and then work every single day on those goals.
Otherwise, you’ll end up old and full of regrets. And I guess you don’t want that, right?
2) Enjoy important moments in life
Sometimes we get caught up in work and we forget the things that matter. Like laughing with a friend. Or appreciating your family, your spouse, your kid, your friends.
These things are priceless.
And you know what most people miss?
The fact that you cannot make more time. You can make more money, but you cannot make more time.
So, enjoy the little moments. Take some time to relax. To listen to a friend. Give a hug to your wife, to your kid.
3) Start with the end in mind
Don’t get this wrong.
Having an end in mind is no guarantee that you’ll reach it.
But, how can you be happy, if you don’t know what happiness means to you? How can you achieve success, if you have no clue what success means to you?
It’s like trying to reach a destination you don’t know.
What can you do about it?
Take some time to meditate on how:
- Your perfect day would look like
- Your perfect life would look like
- Your perfect job/business would look like
- You perfect family life would look like
Be as specific as you can.
But you might say: “Ok, but maybe in 10 years my goals might change”.
And you are right. We are always adapting, evolving and probably reinventing ourselves.
And when this happens, you can always change course.
But at least you know where you’re going. And when you’ll encounter some obstacles in life, you’ll know how to get back on track.
In the end, here’s the most important trick to be successful in any area of your life
Let me ask you a question.
How did you learn to do what you do in your profession?
Actually, how did you learn to talk? How did you learn a new language? How did you learn a new sport?
If you’re not an alien, it’s probably because someone else taught you, right? Someone else already had the experience, right?
So here’s the trick:
Define whatever you want to learn and then find some people who have already done it and ask them to teach you.
Oh, you cannot ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to teach you?
Never stop learning and I guarantee you’ll see a huge progress in your life.
About the author
Patrik Bindea is a growth hacking marketer and the owner of strodin.com, where he helps dentists get more patients. He obsessively tests everything until he finds those details that turn strategies, concepts and words into sales.