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Book Summaries

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias: Book Summary

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In this book summary of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias, you’ll find my notes, high-level ideas, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need Summary

A penny saved is actually two pennies earned when you also consider taxes. So get creative on ways to save money in all areas of life.

The simple proven way to grow your net worth is to spend less than you make.

Never ever fall into the trap of piling up credit card debt by buying things you don’t need that you can’t afford.

Always buy in bulk for home supplies—it will save you more money than you imagine over the years.

Set up a financial plan for you, or your family, in this order: 1) Tally your net worth, 2) Set goals, 3) Figure your annual earnings, 4) Add up your expenses, 5) Take a second look at your expenses, 6) Refine your plan, 7) Find a way to track your progress (mint.com), 8) Give yourself a break.

Save a few thousand dollars in an emergency fund in case something bad happens—you lose your job, end up in the hospital, or face an unexpected high expense—before you start investing.

You shouldn’t trust anyone to take care of your money more than you should trust yourself. It’s your responsibility to know how to grow, protect, and manage your finances.

Investment professionals most often don’t perform like professionals. They are often just as good as you.

You most likely, it’s almost guaranteed, can’t outperform the market. So invest in index funds that cover the market as a whole.

Risky investments are often going to leave you heartbroken and broke. Don’t invest in annuities, commodities, penny stocks, and futures (unless you really know what you’re doing).

“The most common mistake 401(k) participants make is to deploy their 401(k) assets too conservatively.”

If you’re an employee, don’t invest only in your own company’s stock. That’s putting too much trust in one company when both your job and financial future rely on it.

Young adults in a low tax bracket should open up and invest the maximum $5,000 a year through a Roth IRA.

Real estate isn’t an investment, it’s buying a business. It can take a ton of work and be a pain, but also make a lot of money if you research and know how to run the numbers.

Stocks will significantly outperform bonds over the long haul.

If you can keep your money in the market when it all goes down hill, and invest more money, you’ll be in great position when it eventually turns around.

Capital gains, from stocks, are taxed less than income—another reason to invest in stocks and add that income stream.

Most people should invest in Vanguard index funds with low fees, and they will beat 90% of people without doing much work or research.

“There are no brokers who can beat the market consistently and by enough of a margin to more than make up for their brokerage fees.” You don’t need to a broker. Please manage your own money.

The problem with mutual funds is they have high annual expenses and transaction costs that bring down their performance.

Once you get your own financial plan and money in order, then pass along your wisdom to your spouse, children, and parents.

Mini Summary

The most certain way to become rich is to 1) save as much money as you can and 2) invest in the stock market for decades.

Save 10% of your income at least, ideally much more of your income, and invest that money. Invest specifically in index funds—because major odds say you can’t do better by picking stocks on your own.

Stay patient, continue to save and invest in inexpensive index funds, and watch your money pile up for a financially secure future.

Three Favorite Quotes

“No one wants to pass up something because he can’t afford it. But to pass it up because he wants to—because his eye is on a higher goal—well, that’s quite a different thing.”

“You have to take responsibility for your own money because no one cares about it as much as you.”

“The bottom line, if you want to cut straight to the chase, is that most people should do their stock-market investing through no-load index funds… If you do, you will outperform at least 90% of all your friends and neighbors—including many who work much harder at this than you.”

Action Steps For You

The big picture action step here is that you, no one else, have to get your money in order now. Stop waiting. And then establish a plan for your financial future.

Now how you do that is simple: spend less, save more money, set up an emergency fund, invest in boring Vanguard index funds and don’t sell them, and be patient.

Avoid all the risky investments because there are people out there who know more than you and still lose money in those investments. If you invest in risky penny stocks, for example, it’s as good as gambling your money at the horse tracks or casino.

To get more specifics here, I strongly recommend you buy the book (at least read the book summary above again).

And maybe your first action step is to fire your financial planner or broker you pay, because you won’t need them after reading this book. That’s already a huge win that’s going to save you tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

You have to take responsibility for your money and life. To do that, read this book. Then implement the tactics. Then relax, and watch your money pile up faster than you can count it.

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Book Summaries

Unlabel by Marc Ecko: Book Summary

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In this book summary of Unlabel by Marc Ecko, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

Unlabel Summary

“If you can’t express your idea convincingly in black and white and slap it together on a Xerox machine—I mean low-budget—then your idea is not believable. Worse still, it means you yourself don’t really believe.”

You’re going to be most successful when you focus on your strength and outsource the rest. If you’re trying to do everything, quality and productivity is going to suffer some place or another.

An authentic personal brand has an incredible amount of action behind it, otherwise you’d never hear of the person.

Since there’s only so many seconds in a day, every action you choose to take means there’s another action you’re not doing in that moment. Choose wisely if you want to feel good about yourself and reach your goals.

To hide from the fact he didn’t know business acumen about the fashion company he wanted to start, Marc hid behind the art like most creatives do to cover up their insecurity. It’s always helpful to have some business savvy.

Being an entrepreneur means you’ll always be facing rejections and pitching yourself no matter how far you’ve made it. Auditioning yourself never ends and it’s not a bad thing, just how it is.

You don’t want to be 40 and have regrets that you could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve done things different when you were younger. Go for it today!

Be self-referential about your brand, not selfish. This means creatively looping back to your brand’s perspective on an issue and being persistent in this effort. Brands who magically pull this off include rappers, Andy Warhol, Will Ferrell, Star Wars, and the USA.

Apple is more creatively selfish than Microsoft and that’s why they won in the long run.

Executing, what you do, is always more powerful than talking, what you say. You need to deliver on your brand’s promise or it will dissolve.

What you do know not is more important than what you do know.

When trying to create a positive emotional impact on others, you can’t forget to recognize how you personally feel. It’s easy to lose yourself if you don’t keep a tab on yourself.

Loyalty to nostalgia can crumble your businesses future. Ecko and his team invested in a Times Square building that cost them a heavy lease bill every month and they never even opened the store. They also bought huge office buildings that were over the top. And then he had to sell his company. Blame nostalgia.

A successful entrepreneur will have a vision of the future and pursue that authentically. That’s success!

Mini Summary

Take action to build a personal brand, business, and a life that you’re proud of when you reflect on it. The only thing stopping you from reaching your goals is not taking enough action for a long enough time. The opportunity is there, if you work day and night for it!

Live authentically by being a creator, selling without selling out, create wealth that matters by knowing you who are and how you contribute to society, refuse to be labeled by others, and focus on authentic pursuit, not the destination.

No gatekeepers are stopping you from achieving your dreams. The world says gatekeepers are goalkeepers, but you can score big without the help of gatekeepers. So don’t look for approval from others and don’t let people who don’t know you label you. Boldly be yourself, label yourself, live by your standards, and play by your own rules to win.

Three Favorite Quotes

“Reduce risk, lower your required capital, and focus on what you’re really good at—and hire others for what you are not. This is something you should think about in any business: don’t try to do everything. You aren’t the best at everything. Find out where you have an advantage and stick to that.”

“My ‘vision’ didn’t start with billions, my vision started with a can of spray paint and what I could do with it in the next thirty minutes. Entrepreneurs lose sight of that. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their first motherboard, they didn’t envision the iPhone. Visions can start small. Visions should start small.”

“It’s critical that you dig deep down, from the inside out, and look outward and upward for your vision of the future. Not a vision of their future. Not a vision of the gatekeepers’ futute. And not a vision of the future that’s so far away that it’s only achieved once cars are flying through space. But a future that’s awethentic.”

Action Steps For You

My challenge for you is to build an authentic brand that not only serves your business but serves your personal self and sense of worth for the rest of your life.

The way you do this is by experimenting and constantly reflecting to build your self awareness. Knowing who you are and who you want to become will give you a brand to walk into and pursue.

Then the last thing is to do everything in your power to execute with tireless hard work so the rest of the world hears about and buys your brand—without you selling out.

That’s just a few steps, though if you can pull this off you’re going to dominate in your industry and build a business you couldn’t even dream up.

That’s what Marc Ecko did to build his personal brand. That’s what I’m going to do. That’s what you can start doing.

Plus, you can lose or sell your company and then what? You’ll never lose your personal brand as long as you keep it authentic and don’t let them label you what you’re not.

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Book Summaries

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Book Summary

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In this book summary of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

The Great Gatsby Summary

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Money alone doesn’t create happiness. Tom and Daisy are incredibly wealthy but stuck in a depressive marriage because of Tom’s unfaithfulness.

It’s in the best interest of the man and the woman that they think long and hard before they marry someone and regret it. Both Tom and Daisy and Wilson and Myrtle made the wrong choice—then had to live with the consequences of an unhappy marriage.

Gatsby is a people pleaser who wants to ensure everyone has a good time at the lavish parties at his mansion, and cares that his name holds an excellent reputation in the city. But he doesn’t desire to get too close to anyone.

Money attracts a whole bunch of fake friends, freeloaders, and haters. People who never met Gatsby are calling him a murderer or Germany spy, yet they show up to his parties.

“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that green light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”

In the anticipation of a moment, our imagination can be so high in the clouds that when the magical moments comes, it’s impossible for it to live up to the hype of our minds. Gatsby’s fantasizing about meeting Daisy again overshadowed the real her to a degree.

As much as you want to and people spend the rest of their lives trying to, you can’t repeat the past. No one can. It’ll never be the same as you envision it.

If you run a shady business like Gatsby where you have to make deals behind closed doors, it’s most often going to catch up with you. You’ll always have to look over your shoulder with the fear of getting caught.

It’s a dangerous game to make love to someone else’s wife. Gatsby got caught and then Tom used that anger to put an end to Gatsby’s life by insinuating he ran over Myrtle.

“What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her the great things I was going to do?” I totally disagree with this statement from Gatsby. The fun is doing the things, not talking about them—that’s too short-term.

Gatsby paid for tying his sole identity into getting Daisy back. It’s not wise to attach all of your identity to someone else’s feelings about you.

Your legacy and how you made people feel becomes clear at your funeral depending on how many people show up and what they say about you. Gatsby had thousands of people go to his parties, but couldn’t get a soul to show at his funeral.

Gatsby built his success on hard work and habits. While not the most ethical business, he did hustle to be able to profit and afford the lifestyle he desired to capture Daisy’s attention again.

Mini Summary

Gatsby and Daisy could have lived happily ever after, if Gatsby had enough money and a wealthy family backing to support their future. But he didn’t, so they broke up and she married Tom—leading Gatsby to spend every day after trying to jump classes and enter high-society. But Gatsby could never full escape the consequences of the class he was born to, and his desperate pursuits ultimately led to his death.

Life is better when you try to make the most of the present. Always looking back on the past leads you to make bad decisions and ends up in tragedy. Gatsby could have been a great man who lived into his old age of glory if he let go of memories of Daisy.

Gatsby sought wealth to win Daisy back and prove his worth to himself, but in the end it left him hopeless and with nothing but material possessions. He’s left with no wife, no close friends, and no peace after Daisy officially chose Tom. Money helps, but ultimately it doesn’t buy happiness by itself. Gatsby would say the same.

Three Favorite Quotes

“A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.”

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning——So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Action Steps For You

Gatsby made the impeccable mistake of living his life backwards. Every action was meant to correct his past deficiency with Daisy, a lack of wealth and prestige, and it cost him his life.

What this tells me is we have to accept the past and move on. We can’t change it. It is what it is.

Let’s take the lesson learned and move on to be the best version of ourselves. Let’s find hope in an undiscovered and unknown future. Let’s live the most out of our one life going forward.

Specifically, if your high school sweetheart broke it off in college, you can be hurt and feel all the emotions you need to feel. But don’t carry that pain with you 5 years later. There’s a whole new world of guys or girls that would do anything to be with you. With your blinders on, you won’t be able to see anyone but your ex.

If you were bullied in middle school, don’t carry that depression into your thirties. Accept the fact you went through an unfortunate and awful time that you didn’t deserve, but then appreciate the toughness that helped you get through it. You still are so young so work towards finding happiness in the present, in the now, today and every day going forward.

Or if you’re gray and old with broken family relationships that haunt you, you’re still breathing so there’s still time to heal those relationships. Make the call to your estranged daughter. Apologize. Tell them you want to work towards reconciliation and put the past behind you too.

The best thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you is to live in the present and give all of your energy on a daily basis. The past is the past, the rest of your life is now.

Gatsby couldn’t get over the past—aka Daisy—and it broke his heart.

Your life can have a better ending than Gatsby’s, if you choose to love yourself and move on.

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Book Summaries

Napoleon by Vincent Cronin: Book Summary

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In this book summary of Napoleon by Vincent Cronin, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

Napoleon Summary

Napoleon felt strongly in favor of the oppressed and against any form of tyranny.  Napoleon Bonaparte believed personal happiness came from acting on behalf of your community to better their lives.

After losing his first siege, Napoleon learned the power of quick decision making, seizing the moment, and striking when there’s a favorable advantage.

Napoleon aimed to be a true man of the people by not declaring his personal religion on them, but instead he gained insight to understand the majority desires of the French people—Catholicism—and then made that the decree.

While most generals would send a part of their army one by one in war, Napoleon outsmarted them by sending his footmen, cavalry, and guns all at one faction and destroying it, then moving onto another faction. Opposing generals didn’t know what hit them until they lost the battle.

If you’re outnumbered, you need to win based on strategy and skill because you won’t win in a normal attack. Napoleon thrived at winning when undermanned.

Deciding it best for France, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor and it worked because he had the support of the entire French army.

Using friends of all classes and nobility, France ruled the French Empire significantly well given its large responsibility. He improved French streets, architecture, finances, and the pride of the people.

Napoleon’s impatience in his 1812 invasion of Russia cost his army big. If he waited until after the nasty winter, he would have most likely destroyed Russia and agreed to a favorable peace treaty with them.

Napoleon’s philosophy is if you risk nothing, you win nothing. (I love this!)

Presenting yourself with confidence inspires confidence in your organization and others. It’s a powerful skill to master. Napoleon used this after his Russian defeat to stay in control of the government.

“Napoleon’s inflexibility could have never stemmed from so feeble a thing as personal ambition; it was rooted in the principles of the Revolution. The conclusion is that Napoleon not, more than most men, ambitious for himself; but he was very ambitious for France an he embodied the ambitions of thirty million Frenchmen.”

Napoleon put France’s honor above France’s interests and went to war against the continental powers of Russia, Prussia, and Austria. This united opponent caused his military downfall.

One of Napoleon’s fatal flaws was that he didn’t understand human nature. It’s this reason his sister lands defected to his enemy, the Parisians when it came time to defend Paris, and his most important general during treaty talks.

There’s often a favorable moment in war where the fate of each side can be determined. Act decisively and win it, or wait too long that the battle becomes a tie or loss.

You can’t win forever and all good things come to an end. After two captures, Napoleon finally dies as a prisoner in the English territory of St. Helena at 51 years old.

Mini Summary

Napoleon sought power not for his personal ambition, but to protect France’s republic and right to liberty, equality, and fraternity. Those were the motivations for his foreign and domestic decisions. And this truth led him to unmatched bravery and iron willpower as he ruled the battlefield and government.

Napoleon goes down in history as one of the best military generals ever based on his operational army formations, quick decision-making, using strengths against opposing army weaknesses, and having individual factions of his army work together in unison. He used his innovative military strategy to expand France into one of the greatest empires Europe had seen in that time and a beautiful country.

Napoleon changed the landscape of Europe forever based on his accomplishments, wars with nearly every European country, military style, and his improvements to cities. After coming from a middle class family, he made the most of his life and his legacy lives on to prove it.

Three Favorite Quotes

“The Maddalena affair left a lasting impression on Napoleon. It taught him, as only failure could, the difficulty of combined operations. It taught him the importance of speed, of the ‘favorable moment’ when men are tensed for action, and the enemy surprised. It taught him the vital importance of firmness in a commander, and of discipline in the ranks.”

“At dinner Napoleon talked of his campaigns, and confided the secret of success: ‘the essential thing is to be afraid last’.”

“I have a good job, ruling the Empire. I could be in Paris, enjoying myself, lazing about… Instead, here I am with you, camping out; and in action like anyone else I can be hit by a bullet… I’m trying to rise above myself. Everyone in his own station must do the same. That’s what greatness means.”

Action Steps For You

Napoleon was a man of strong-willed convictions. He genuinely would die for France, his honor, and his family. That’s what drove his career choice and eventual success.

What irrefutable truth do you hold? What’s your why? What’s your northern star that will propel you forward during the victories and also trials?

Knowing who you are and your central truth is going to help you reverse engineer what it is you want out of life. By discovering your mission, you’ll have a strong foundation to rest on instead of weak desires.

And secondly, how can you use that to build yourself an accomplished career that you’re forever proud of? If it’s not clear, this route is the opposite of taking a soul-sucking-job solely for the money.

It’s aligning your passion to become the best version of yourself. It’s denying yourself in the short-term to build yourself a happy future. It’s looking back on your life with proud honor, not poor man’s disgrace.

Napoleon did it. I’m working towards. Why don’t you start today?

P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to read this book to get a clearer idea of his personal convictions and how they empowered him to be France’s all-time greatest leader.

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