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MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom Paperback – March 29, 2016
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
IT’S YOUR MONEY! IT’S YOUR LIFE! TAKE CONTROL
Money is a good servant but a bad master.
—SIR FRANCIS BACON
Few words have the power to provoke such extreme human emotions.
A lot of us refuse to even talk about money! Like religion, sex, or politics, the topic is taboo at the dinner table and often off-limits in the workplace. We might discuss wealth in polite company, but money is explicit. It’s raw. It’s garish. It’s intensely personal and highly charged. It can make people feel guilty when they have it—or ashamed when they don’t.
But what does it really mean?
For some of us, money is vital and crucial but not paramount. It’s simply a tool, a source of power used in service of others and a life well lived. Others are consumed with such a hunger for money that it destroys them and everyone around them. Some are even willing to give up things that are far more valuable to get it: their health, their time, their family, their self-worth, and, in some cases, even their integrity.
At its core, money is about power.
We’ve all seen how money can have the power to create or the power to destroy. It can fund a dream or start a war. You can provide money as a gift or wield it as a weapon. It can be used as an expression of your spirit, your creativity, your ideas—or your frustration, your anger, your hate. It can be used to influence governments and individuals. Some marry for it—and then find out its real price.
But we all know that on some level it’s an illusion. Money isn’t even gold or paper today, it’s zeros and ones in banking computers. What is it? It’s like a shape-shifter or a canvas, assuming whatever meaning or emotion we project on it.
In the end, money isn’t what we’re after . . . is it? What we’re really after are the feelings, the emotions, we think money can create:
that feeling of empowerment,
of helping those we love and those in need,
of having a choice, and
of feeling alive.
Money is certainly one of the ways we can turn the dreams we have into the reality we live.
But even if money is just a perception—an abstract concept—it doesn’t feel that way if you don’t have enough of it! And one thing is for sure: you either use it, or it uses you. You either master money, or, on some level, money masters you!
How you deal with money reflects how you deal with power. Is it an affliction or a blessing? A game or a burden?
When I was choosing the title of this book, a few people were actually outraged at the suggestion that money could be a game. How could I use such a frivolous term for such a serious topic! But, hey, let’s get real. As you’ll see in the pages to come, the best way to change your life is to find people who’ve already achieved what you want and then model their behavior. Want to master your finances? Find a financial master and imitate how he or she deals with money, and you will have found a pathway to power.
I can tell you right now, I have interviewed many of the wealthiest people in the world, and most of them do think of money as a game. Why else would anyone work ten or 12 hours a day after they’ve made billions of dollars? And remember, not all games are frivolous. Games are a reflection of life. Some people sit on the sidelines, and some play to win. How do you play? I want to remind you, this is a game that you and your family can’t afford to lose.
My promise to you is this: if you will stay with me and follow the 7 Simple Steps in this book—the steps that have been distilled from the world’s most successful financial players—you and your family will win this game. And you can win big!
But to win, you have to know the rules and learn the best strategies for success from those who have already mastered the game.
The good news is that you can save years of time—and in a few minutes—by simply learning the pitfalls to avoid and the shortcuts to experiencing lasting success. The financial industry often works to make this topic feel incredibly complex, but in reality, once you get past the jargon, it’s relatively simple. This book is your opportunity to stop being the chess piece and become the chess player in the game of money. I think you’re going to be very surprised at how, with an insider’s understanding, you can easily transform your financial life and enjoy the freedom you deserve.
So let’s get to it. Just imagine what life would be like if you had mastered this game already.
What if money didn’t matter?
How would you feel if you didn’t have to worry about going to an office every morning, or paying the bills, or funding your retirement? What would it be like to live your life on your own terms? What would it mean to know you had the opportunity to start your own business, or that you could afford to buy a home for your parents and send your kids to college, or have the freedom to travel the world?
How would you live your life if you could wake up each day knowing there was enough money coming in to cover not only your basic needs but also your goals and dreams?
The truth is, a lot of us would keep working, because that’s the way we’re wired. But we’d do it from a place of joy and abundance. Our work would continue, but the rat race would end. We’d work because we want to, not because we have to.
That’s financial freedom.
But is it a pipe dream? Is it really possible for the average person—more importantly, for you—to make this dream a reality?
Whether you want to live like the 1% or just have the peace of mind from knowing that you won’t outlive your savings, the truth is you can always find a way to make the money you need. How? The secret to wealth is simple: Find a way to do more for others than anyone else does. Become more valuable. Do more. Give more. Be more. Serve more. And you will have the opportunity to earn more—whether you own the best food truck in Austin, Texas, or you’re the top salesperson at your company or even the founder of Instagram.
But this book isn’t just about adding value—it’s really about how to go from where you are today to where you truly want to be, whether that’s financially secure, independent, or free. It’s about increasing the quality of your life today by developing the one fundamental skill that the vast majority of Americans have never developed: the mastery of money. In fact, 77% of Americans—three of every four people—say they have financial worries, but only 40% report having any kind of spending or investment plan. One in three baby boomers have less than $1,000 saved! Polls show that fewer than one in four trust the financial system—with good reason! And stock ownership has been hitting record lows, particularly among young people. But the truth is, you don’t earn your way to freedom. As you’ll see later in this book, even multimillion-dollar earners such as Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, boxer Mike Tyson, and actress Kim Basinger lost it all because they didn’t apply the fundamentals that you’ll soon be learning. You have to be able to not only hold on to a portion of what you earn for your family, but, more importantly, multiply what you earn—making money while you sleep. You have to make the shift from being a consumer in the economy to becoming an owner—and you do it by becoming an investor.
Actually, a lot of us are already investors. Maybe you first got into the game when Grandma bought you a few shares of her favorite stock just for being born, or perhaps your employer auto-enrolled you in the company’s 401(k), or maybe you first became an investor when a friend told you to forget the Kindle and buy Amazon stock instead.
But is this enough? If you’re reading this now, my guess is that you know the answer: no way! I don’t have to tell you it’s not your parents’ and grandparents’ investment world. The plan used to be so simple: go to college, get a job, work your butt off, and then maybe get a better job with a bigger corporation. After that, the key was to find a way to add value, move up the ladder, invest in company stock, and retire with a pension. Remember pensions? A promise of a never-ending income for life? They’ve become relics.
You and I both know that world is over. We live longer now on less money. New technologies keep coming online, stoking a system that often seems designed to separate us from our money instead of helping us grow it. As I write these words, interest rates on our savings hover near zero, while the markets rise and fall like corks on the ocean. Meanwhile, we’re faced with a financial system of limitless choices and mind-boggling complexity. Today there are more than 10,000 mutual funds, 1,400 different ETFs, and hundreds of global stock exchanges to choose from. It seems like every day we’re pitched more and more complex investment “instruments” with an alphabet soup of acronyms: CDOs, REITs, MBSs, MLPs, CDSs, CETFs . . .
How about HFT? That’s short for high-frequency trading, where 50% to 70% of the tens of millions of trades that churn through the market each day are now generated by high-speed machines. What does that mean for you? It takes only a half second, or about 500 milliseconds, to click your mouse to complete your E*Trade order. In that short time, the big boys with the supercomputers will have bought and sold thousands of shares of the same stock hundreds of times over, making microprofits with each transaction. Michael Lewis, bestselling author of the HFT exposé Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, told 60 Minutes, “The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism, is rigged . . . by a combination of the stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks, and high-frequency traders . . . They’re able to identify your desire to buy shares in Microsoft and buy them in front of you and sell them back to you at a higher price!” How fast are these guys? One HFT firm spent a quarter of a billion dollars to straighten the fiber-optic cables between Chicago and New York, reconstructing the landscape and literally terraforming the earth to shave 1.4 milliseconds off its transmission time! But even that’s not fast enough. Some trades already take place in microseconds—that’s a millionth of a second. Soon HFT technology will allow these trades to happen in nanoseconds—a billionth of a second. Meanwhile, they’re laying cable on the ocean floor, and there’s even talk of solar-powered drones acting as microwave relay stations to connect exchanges in New York and London.
If all of this leaves you reeling, I’m with you. What are your chances of competing with flying robots trading at the speed of light? Where do you turn to find a path through this high-tech, high-risk maze of choices?
An expert is an ordinary man away from home giving advice.
The problem is, when it comes to money (and investing), everybody has an opinion. Everybody’s got a tip. Everybody has an answer. But I’ll give you a hint: they rarely have one that will really help you. Have you noticed how beliefs around money are like religion and politics? Conversations can get intense and emotional. Especially online, where people without any real knowledge or mastery will promote their own theories and criticize others’ strategies with such vehemence, even though they have no proven track record. It’s like a psychologist on Prozac telling you how you can have a fulfilled life. Or an obese person telling you how to get thin and fit. I tend to separate pundits into those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing from all these “experts” who tell us what to do, but haven’t produced results in their own lives.
If you thought you were going to hear from another investment guru making crazy promises, you came to the wrong place. I’ll leave that to the financial entertainers who scream at you about buying the hottest stock, or implore you to save your money and put it in some mythical mutual fund. You know the one, where they promise you’ll continuously compound your money with 12% annual growth. They dole out advice that too often has no basis in reality, and often they don’t even invest in the products they push. Some of them might sincerely think they’re helping, but people can be sincere and be sincerely wrong.
I want you to know I’m not one of those “positive thinkers” who’s going to pump you up with a false view of the world. I believe in intelligence. You have to see things as they really are but not worse than they are—that view of life only gives you the excuse to do nothing. You may know me as the “smiling guy with the big teeth” on TV, but I’m not here to tell you to do a bunch of affirmations—I’m the guy who’s focused on helping you dig deep, solve real problems, and take your life to the next level.
For 38 years, I’ve been obsessed with finding strategies and tools that can immediately change the quality of people’s lives. I have proven their effectiveness by producing measurable results where others have failed. So far I’ve reached more than 50 million people from 100 different countries through my books, videos, and audio programs, and another 4 million in live events.
What I’ve known from the beginning is that success leaves clues. People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else does. I’m interested in those people: those who have a relentless hunger to learn and grow and achieve. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not deluded. I’m aware there are very few people in the world who are fit and healthy and who sustain it. Most people don’t have decades of sustained love and passion in their intimate relationships, nor do they experience ongoing gratitude and joy. There are very few people who maximize their business opportunities. And there are even fewer who start with little or nothing and become financially free.
But a few do! A few do have great relationships, great joy, great wealth, and endless gratitude. I have studied the few who do versus the many who talk. If you want to look for obstacles, what’s wrong is always available. But so is what’s right! I am a hunter of human excellence. I seek out those individuals who break the norms and demonstrate to all of us what’s really possible. I learn what those few extraordinary individuals do that’s different from everybody else, and then emulate them. I find out what works, and then I clarify it, simplify it, and systematize it in a way to help people move forward.
Ever since the dark days of 2008, when the global financial system nearly melted down, I’ve been obsessed with finding a way to help everyday people take control of their money and fight back against a system that’s often been rigged against them. The fix has been in for years, and it hasn’t gotten a whole lot better with all those so-called reforms on Capitol Hill. In some areas, it’s gotten worse. To find answers, I interviewed 50 of the most brilliant, influential players in the world of money. In this book, you won’t get talking heads, and you won’t get my opinions, either. You’ll hear it straight from the masters of the game: self-made billionaires, Nobel laureates, and financial titans. Here’s just a sampling of a few of the masters of money that you will be learning from in the pages ahead:
• John C. Bogle, the 85-year-old sage with 64 years of stock market history and the founder of the Vanguard Group, the number one mutual fund company in the world;
• Ray Dalio, founder of the largest hedge fund on the planet, with $160 billion in assets;
• David Swensen, one of the greatest institutional investors of all time, who grew Yale University’s endowment from $1 billion to more than $23.9 billion in less than two decades;
• Kyle Bass, a man who turned $30 million in investments into $2 billion in two years during the subprime crisis;
• Carl Icahn, who has outperformed Warren Buffett, the market, and virtually everyone else in the last one-, five-, and ten-year cycles;
• Mary Callahan Erdoes, whom many consider to be the most powerful woman in finance. She oversees more than $2.5 trillion as CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management; and
• Charles Schwab, who led a revolution to open up Wall Street to individual investors, and whose iconic company now has $2.38 trillion under management.
I’ll put you in the room with these and many other superstars who get consistent results, decade after decade, in up markets and down, booms and busts. Together we will uncover the core secrets to their investment success and see how to apply them even to the smallest amount of money.
And here is the key: I wrote this book based on timeless wisdom of the most successful investors in the world. After all, none of us knows which way the economy will be headed by the time you’re reading this book. Will there be inflation or deflation? A bull market or a bear? The idea is to know how to survive and thrive in any market condition. These real experts will explain how. Plus, they’ll be opening their portfolios to show you the mix of investments that they rely on to weather every storm. And they’ll answer this question: If you couldn’t pass on any of your financial wealth to your children, but only a set of principles, what would they be? That could be the greatest inheritance of all, and you don’t have to be one of their kids to get it!
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
Get ready, because together we’re about to go on a journey through 7 Simple Steps to financial security, independence and freedom! Whether you’re a millennial just starting out, a baby boomer facing retirement, or a sophisticated investor looking to keep your edge, this book will offer you a practical blueprint for setting and achieving your financial goals and help you break free from whatever limiting behaviors might be holding you back from true abundance. We’ll explore the psychology of wealth, something I’ve studied and taught for nearly four decades. We’ll tackle the money mistakes people make, zeroing in on what keeps them from following through on their best-laid plans. And to make sure you get the results you desire, I’ve gone to the best behavioral economists on earth to find solutions that really work—small, simple adjustments that automatically trigger you to do what others need discipline to maintain; strategies that can make the difference between retiring comfortably or dying broke.
Let’s face it: so many smart and accomplished people have put aside this area of money because it seems so complicated and overwhelming. One of the first people I gave this manuscript to to review is a brilliant friend named Angela who has accomplished mastery in many areas of her life—but never in the area of money. She told me that people thought she was amazing because she’d sailed 20,000 miles of ocean in some of the roughest seas on small sailboats. But she knew she neglected her finances, and it embarrassed her. “It seemed so confusing, and I couldn’t be competent. I already felt defeated, so I gave up, even though it’s not in my nature.” But she found that by following the 7 Simple Steps in this book, she could finally get control of her finances, and it was easy and painless! “Gosh, I could save for my future just by cutting a few things that don’t give me joy,” she told me. Once she started thinking about saving, she was able to set up an automatic investment account, and by chapter 2.8, she had already transformed her life.
A few days later, she came in to see me and said, “I got my first-ever brand-new car.”
I asked her, “How did you do it?”
She said, “I began to realize that I was spending more money on my old car for repairs and gas than it cost me to finance a brand-new car!” You should have seen the look on her face when she pulled up in a shiny new pearlescent white Jeep Wrangler.
So I want you to know that this book is not just about how to have a comfortable retirement, but also about how to have the quality of life you desire and deserve today. You can live life on your own terms while you simultaneously lock in your future quality of life as well! The feeling of empowerment and inner strength and certainty that you experience when you master this area of your life will spill into everything else: your career, your health, your emotions, and your relationships! When you lack confidence about money, it unconsciously affects your confidence in other areas too. But when you take charge of your finances, it empowers you and excites you to take on other challenges!
What holds us back from getting started on the road to financial freedom? For a lot of us, like my friend Angela, it’s the feeling that we’re in over our heads. We’ve been taught to think, “This is too complex” or “This is not my field.” Frankly, the system is designed to be confusing, so that you’ll give up control to the “professionals” who reap enormous fees by keeping you in the dark. You’re going to learn in the chapters ahead how to prevent that from happening, and, most importantly, I’m going to show you that investing your way to freedom isn’t confusing at all.
One reason people succeed is that they have knowledge other people don’t. You pay your lawyer or your doctor for the knowledge and skills you don’t have. They also have their own special language that can at times keep them insulated from the rest of us.
For example, in the medical world, you might hear that 225,000 people have died “iatrogenic deaths” in the past year. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it’s the third largest cause of death in the United States. Iatrogenic. How’s that for a hundred-dollar word? It sounds important, but what does it even mean? Is it a rare tropical disease? A genetic mutation? No, iatrogenic actually refers to an inadvertent death caused by a doctor, or a hospital, or an incorrect or unnecessary medical procedure.
Why don’t they just come out and say so? Because it doesn’t serve a medical institution’s interests to put it in plain language a layperson can understand. The financial world has its own jargon too, with special words for things that are really additional fees disguised in language that would make it impossible for you to realize it is taking much more of your money than you would ever imagine.
I hope you’ll let me be your translator as well as your guide on this journey. Together we’ll break the code and cut through the complexity that keeps most of us feeling like outsiders in the world of finance.
Today there is so much information that even the most sophisticated investors can feel overloaded. Especially when we realize what’s being pushed on us often has nothing to do with our needs. Say you’re having some mild chest pains, and you Google the word heart. What do you see? It’s not something about the heart attack you might want to deal with right now. Instead, you get Heart, the music group that hasn’t had a hit in 20 years. How does that help you?
My plan is to serve you by becoming your personal financial search engine—a smart search engine, one that will filter through all the superfluous, even harmful financial information out there to deliver simple, clear solutions.
Before you know it, you’ll be an insider too. You’ll learn why chasing returns never works, why nobody beats the market long-term,1 and why the vast majority of financial experts don’t have a legal responsibility to serve your best interests. Crazy, right? You’ll learn why the returns advertised by mutual funds are not the returns you actually earn. You’ll find solutions that could add literally millions of dollars to your lifetime of investing returns—statistical studies show that you can save between $150,000 and $450,000 just by reading and applying the principles of section 2 of this book! You’ll be putting money back in your own pocket, not the “fee factories.” You’ll also learn about a proven way of growing your money with 100% principal protection, and tax free to boot (IRS-approved). This vehicle is finally available to individual investors like you.
And here’s what truly sets this book apart: I don’t just tell you about investment strategies that the ultrawealthy have and that you can’t afford or access; I’ve found ways to make them affordable and accessible for you! Why should the privileged few be the only ones to tap into extraordinary opportunities? Isn’t it time that we level the playing field?
Remember, it’s your money, and it’s time for you to take control.
A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.
—OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, SR.
Before we go on, let me tell you what moved me to write this book. If you’ve watched any of the coverage of my work over the years, or if you’ve read any of my previous books, you probably know my track record for creating massive and measurable change—helping people lose 30 to 300 pounds, turning around relationships that seem to be at their end, helping business owners grow their companies 30% to 130% in a year. I also help people overcome enormous tragedies—from couples who’ve lost a child, to soldiers coming back from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. My passion is helping people create real breakthroughs in their relationships, their emotions, their health, their careers, and their finances.
For nearly four decades, I’ve had the privilege of coaching people from every walk of life, including some of the most powerful men and women on the planet. I’ve worked with presidents of the United States as well as presidents of small businesses. I’ve coached and helped transform the performance of sports stars, from the early days with hockey great Wayne Gretzky to today’s superstar Serena Williams. I’ve had the privilege to work with award-winning actors with the coolness of Leonardo DiCaprio and the warmth of Hugh Jackman. My work has touched the lives and performances of top entertainers from Aerosmith to Green Day, Usher to Pitbull to LL Cool J. And billionaire business leaders as well, such as the casino magnate Steve Wynn and the internet wizard Marc Benioff. In fact, Marc quit his job at Oracle and began building Salesforce.com after attending one of my Unleash the Power Within seminars in 1999. Today it’s a $6 billion enterprise and has been named the “World’s Most Innovative Company” by Forbes magazine for the last four consecutive years. So obviously my clients don’t come to me for motivation. They have plenty of that already. What they get from me are strategies that help them hit the next level and keep them at the top of their game.
In the financial arena, since 1993 I’ve had the honor to coach Paul Tudor Jones, one of the top ten financial traders in history. Paul predicted the October 1987 Black Monday crash—still the largest single-day US stock market decline (by percentage) ever. While markets plummeted around the world and everyone else was losing his shirt, Paul as much as doubled his investors’ money in 1987. He did it again in 2008, bringing his investors nearly a 30% positive return while the market plummeted 50%! My job working with Paul is to capture the principles that guide all his decisions. Then I put them into a system that he uses daily and, most importantly, at critical times. I’m not a positive-thinking coach. Quite the opposite: I’m a prepare-for-anything coach. I’ve been in touch with Paul, tracking his trading every day through a roller coaster of market conditions. From the tech bubble of the late 1990s to 9/11. From the growth in real estate and the collapse of the subprime market to the financial meltdown of 2008. I’ve been there during the subsequent European debt crisis as well as the largest one-day percentage crash in gold prices in three decades in 2013.
In spite of the diversity of these financial challenges, in 28 full consecutive years, Paul has never had a single losing year. I’ve been working with Paul for the last 21 of those years. He is truly unmatched in his ability to find the way to victory. I’ve had the privilege of being shoulder-to-shoulder with him while he made money consistently, no matter how volatile the market. Through him, I’ve learned more about the real world of investing and how decisions are made in tough times than I could get from a hundred MBA courses.
I’m also incredibly blessed to not only work with Paul during this time but also consider him one of my dearest friends. What I love and respect about Paul is that he not only creates financial results for himself but also is one of the most extraordinary philanthropists in the world. Over the years, I’ve watched him grow the Robin Hood Foundation from the simple idea of harnessing the power of free markets to alleviate poverty in New York into what Fortune magazine has called “one of the most innovative and influential philanthropic organizations of our time.” So far Robin Hood has distributed more than $1.45 billion in grants and initiatives, changing millions of lives in the process.
I’ve also learned my own lessons along the way, some through the pain of my own trials and errors—which this book is designed to help you avoid as much as possible. I’ve earned my own scars on Wall Street. I took a company public when I was 39 years old and watched my personal net worth soar to over $400 million in a few weeks—and then plunge back to earth with the dot-com crash of 2000!
But that stock market “correction” was nothing compared with what we’ve all been through in recent years. The meltdown of 2008–09 was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Do you remember how it felt when it looked like our financial world was coming to an end? The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 50%, dragging down your 401(k) with it. The bottom fell out in real estate, and the price of your home may have plummeted by 40% or more. Millions of people lost the gains from a lifetime of hard work, and millions more lost their jobs. During those terrible months, I received more phone calls from a greater variety of people needing help than ever before. I heard from barbers and billionaires. People would tell me they were losing their homes, their savings were gone, their children couldn’t go to college. It just killed me because I know what that feels like.
I’ve worked hard and been blessed with financial success, but it wasn’t always that way. I grew up with four different fathers in California’s dusty San Gabriel Valley. I can vividly remember, as a kid, not picking up the phone or answering the door because I knew who was there—it was the bill collector, and we had no money to pay him. As a teenager, I was embarrassed to have to wear school clothes we bought for 25 cents at the thrift shop. And kids can be pretty brutal when you are not “hip.” Today the thrift-store shopping would be a sign of coolness—go figure! And when I finally got my first car, a beat-up 1960 Volkswagen bug, the car had no reverse, so I parked on a hill, and there was never enough money for gas. Thankfully, I didn’t buy the theory that this is just how life is. I found a way to overcome my circumstances. Because of my own experiences, I can’t stand to see anybody suffer. It makes me crazy. And 2008 brought more needless economic suffering than I had seen in my lifetime.
In the immediate aftermath of the stock market crash, everybody agreed that something had to be done to fix the system. I kept waiting for those promised changes to happen, but years later it was still business as usual. And the more I learned about the roots of the financial crisis, the angrier I got. My personal tipping point came after I watched an Academy Award–winning documentary called Inside Job, narrated by Matt Damon, about the Wall Street gunslingers who took crazy risks with our money and nearly toppled the economy. And their penalty? We the taxpayers bailed them out, and somehow the same cast of characters was put in charge of the recovery. By the end of the film, I was seething with frustration, but I converted my anger into a question: “What can I do?”
This book was the answer.
There is no friend as loyal as a book.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I haven’t written a major book in almost 20 years. Last year, on average, I was on a plane once out of every four days traveling to more than 15 countries. I run a dozen companies and a nonprofit. I have four children, an amazing wife, and a mission I love and live. To say my life is full would be an understatement. Both Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within were international bestsellers, and that was enormously gratifying, but I haven’t felt compelled to write again until now. Why? I love live events! I love the total-immersion experience, the immediacy and flexibility of communicating with 5,000 to 10,000 people at a time, going deep and keeping their focused attention for 50 hours in a weekend. And that in a day and age when most people won’t sit for a three-hour movie that someone spent $300 million to make. I can remember vividly Oprah telling me that she couldn’t stay for more than two hours—and 12 hours later she was standing on a chair and shouting to the camera, “This is one of the greatest experiences of my life!” Usher told me he loved my work, but certainly he wouldn’t last through an entire weekend. Just like Oprah, he ended up having the time of his life. Fifty hours later he said to me, “This is like going to one of the greatest concerts of my life! I was writing notes like crazy, and you made me laugh my ass off!”
My live-event experience is filled with so much emotion, music, excitement, and profound insights that people are moved to take massive action. They don’t just think, they don’t just feel, they change, they transform. And my body language and my voice are essential to my style of teaching. So, I’ve got to confess, when I sit down to write words on a page, I feel like there’s a gag over my mouth and one hand tied behind my back! Heck, I found that I could reach more than ten million people through one TED Talk alone.
So what made me change my mind?
The financial crisis caused tremendous pain, but it also made us reevaluate what’s most important in our lives—things that have nothing to do with money. It was a time to get back to basics, to the values that have sustained us through troubled times before. For me, it made me remember the days when I was sleeping in my car homeless and searching for a way to change my life. How did I do it? Books! They helped to establish me. I’ve always been a voracious reader: as a young man, I decided I was going to read a book a day. I figured leaders are readers. I took a speed-reading course. I didn’t quite read a book a day, but over seven years, I did read more than 700 books to find the answers to help myself and others. Books on psychology, time management, history, philosophy, physiology. I wanted to know about anything that could immediately change the quality of my life and anyone else’s.
But the books I read as a child made the deepest impression. They were my ticket out of a world of pain: a world with no compelling future. They transported me to a realm of limitless possibilities. I can remember Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on self-reliance, and the lines “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.” Another was a book by the philosopher James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, echoing the biblical proverb “As a man thinketh, so his heart will be.” It came to me at a time when my mind was a battlefield filled with fear. He taught me that everything we create in our lives starts with thought.
I devoured biographies of great leaders, great thinkers, great doers, like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, John F. Kennedy, and Viktor Frankl. I realized that the great men and women of the world had experienced pain and suffering much greater than my own. They weren’t just lucky, or even fortunate; somehow there was something in them, an invisible force that would not let them settle for less than they could do, or be, or give. I realized that biography is not destiny; that my past was not equal to my future.
Another favorite was an American classic from 1937, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Hill spent two decades in the early 20th century interviewing 500 of the world’s most accomplished individuals, from Andrew Carnegie, to Henry Ford, to Theodore Roosevelt, to Thomas Edison, finding out what made them tick. He discovered that they all shared a relentless focus on their goals, and a combination of burning desire, faith, and persistence to achieve them. Hill’s message that ordinary people could overcome any obstacle to success gave hope to a generation of readers struggling through the Great Depression. Think and Grow Rich became one of the bestselling books of all time.
Napoleon Hill’s quest has been an inspiration to me. Like his classic, this book is modeled on seeking out the best of the best in the world, from Warren Buffett to Sir Richard Branson—and including the man that experts in the field have called the Edison of our day: Ray Kurzweil, who invented the first digital music synthesizers, the first software to translate text into speech; he’s the man behind Siri on your iPhone. He developed a device that allows the blind to walk the streets and read road signs and order from any menu. Today Ray is head of engineering development for Google. But I wanted to write a book that went beyond the psychology and science of achievement to come up with a real plan, with real tools that you could use to build a better future for yourself and your family. It would be a handbook, a blueprint, an owner’s manual for the new economy.
As I began to reassociate to the power of a book, I thought, “I need to put these answers in a form that’s available to anyone.” And with today’s technology, this book has a few great advantages to help push you along the way. It has electronic segments where you can go online to see some of the men and women I interviewed and hear their words. We have an app that’s designed to trigger you to walk through the 7 Simple Steps so you don’t just learn the ideas but follow through and get the financial freedom you truly deserve.
By the way, when I began this adventure, people told me I was crazy. Many so-called experts—and even friends!—warned me I was nuts to try to bring the complex world of finance to a wide audience. Even my publisher begged me to write about anything else.
But I knew I could pull it off if I found the best voices to guide the way. Most of the people I’ve interviewed here do not give interviews, or if they do them, they’re extremely rare. They might speak in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, or for the Council on Foreign Relations, but bringing their knowledge to the general population, in their voices, has never been done before. Sharing their critical insights in a way that anyone could act on became the mission of this book.
I’ve been honored to have great relationships with some of the most influential people in the world: friends in high places who were willing to make a few calls on my behalf. Before long I found doors opening to me, and I was getting access to the masters of the game.
Welcome to the jungle . . .
—“WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE,” Guns N’ Roses
So where do I start? I decided to start with a person who most people have never even heard of, even though he’s been called the Steve Jobs of investing. But ask any of the world’s financial leaders, whether they’re the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, the head of an investment bank, or the president of the United States, and they all know about Ray Dalio. They read his weekly briefing. Why? Because governments call to ask him what to do, and he invests their money. Same with pension funds and insurance companies. He’s the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, with $160 billion in assets under management (AUM) at a time when a large hedge fund might manage $15 billion. It used to take a net worth of $5 billion and an initial $100 million investment just to get in the door. But don’t bother trying; he won’t take your money—or anybody else’s—at this point.
Ray Dalio came from an unlikely background, born in Queens, New York, to a jazz musician father and a homemaker mother. He started as a caddy who picked up his first stock tips at the local golf course. Now he’s worth about $14 billion and is the 31st richest man in the United States. How did he do it? I had to find out! Here’s a man whose Pure Alpha fund, according to Barron’s, has lost money only three times in 20 years, and in 2010 he produced 40% returns for his key clients. Over the life of the fund (since launching in 1991), he’s produced a 21% compounded annual return (before fees). If there’s anyone I wanted to ask, “Can the average investor still make money in this crazy, volatile market?” it was Ray. So when he told me, “There’s no question you can still win,” I was all ears! How about you?
It’s not that easy to get access to Ray Dalio. But as it turns out, Ray already knew who I was, and he was a fan of my work. One afternoon I sat down with him in his surprisingly modest house on a wooded island off the Connecticut coast. He got right to the point, telling me that individual investors like you can win—but only if you don’t try to beat the pros at their own game.
“What they gotta know, Tony, is you can win,” he said. “But you can’t do it by trying to beat the system. You don’t want to try. I have fifteen hundred employees and forty years of experience, and it’s a tough game for me. This is poker with the best poker players on earth.”
Ray is 65 years old, speaks with a soft New York accent, and uses his hands like a conductor when he talks. He reminded me that poker, like playing the markets, is a zero-sum game. For every winner, there has to be a loser. “As soon as you’re in that game, you’re not just playing poker against the guys across the table. It’s a world game, and only a small percentage of people make real money in it. They make a lot. They may take money away from those who are not as good at the game,” he said. “So I would say to your investors, the average guy: you don’t want to be in that game.”
I asked Ray, “If you’re telling people they can’t compete in this game, should they be thinking twice about letting someone else play for them? What about the brokers and mutual fund managers who say they can get you better returns?”
“You think you’re going to a doctor, but they’re not doctors,” he told me. We’re trained to throw our total faith into doctors and do whatever they tell us without thinking, hoping they have all the answers. But Ray Dalio says that typical money managers are not going to help you win because they don’t have the skills or resources to play in the big game, either. “If they did, you wouldn’t have access to them.
“The Olympics is easy compared with what we do,” Ray continued. “This is more competitive. You can go to your broker-dealer, and you think you have to say, ‘Is that a smart guy?’ He might be smart. He might care about you. But you’ve got to ask, ‘How many gold medals has he won?’ You have to be very, very careful, because there are so many people who’d give you advice, but they have to be good enough to be able to take it away from the best in the game.”
So what’s the answer?
“Instead of trying to compete, you’ve gotta learn there is a passive way to win. There’s a way to not put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a system to protect yourself against all downsides, because the best investors know they’re going to be wrong, no matter how smart they are.”
Wait a second! Ray Dalio, who gets a compounded return of 21%, can still be wrong?
“That’s right, Tony, I’m gonna be wrong,” he said. “We’re all gonna be wrong. So we gotta set up a system that protects us from that.”
So, at the end of nearly three hours together, it was time for the big question: “Ray, what is that system?” And Ray said to me, “Tony, the last time I took money, you had to have a five-billion-dollar net worth to get access to my knowledge and the minimum investment was one hundred million. It’s really complex, and it changes a lot.”
I said, “C’mon, Ray. You just told me that nobody new can get access to you anyway. I know how much you care about people. If you couldn’t pass on your money to your children, and you could pass on only a set of principles or a portfolio—a system that will allow them to make money in good times and bad like you have—tell me what that would look like for the average investor?”
We went back and forth a bit, and in the end, guess what? He walked me through the sample ideal portfolio, the exact investment mix that would help you maximize returns with the least amount of downside volatility in any market.
What’s a portfolio? If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s just a collection of diverse investments that you put together to try to maximize your financial returns. Ray revealed a simple system of what to invest in and in what percentages and amounts. And when we looked back in history, we found that by using his strategy, you would have made money 85% of the time over the last 30 years (1984 through 2013)! That’s only four losing years in the last 30 years (1984 through 2013)—with a maximum loss of 3.93% in a year (and an average negative year of just 1.9%). And one of those four down years was just 0.03%, which most would chalk up to a breakeven. In 2008 you would have been down just 3.93% when the rest of the market lost 51% (from peak to trough)—all by just doing what Ray has shared with us. The plan he shared here has averaged a return of just under 10% per year (net of fees), and it’s an investment plan that you can easily set up for yourself! And it’s only one of the systems from the world’s greatest investors that you’ll learn when you get to section 6, “Invest Like the .001%: The Billionaire’s Playbook.”
Now, I know you want to jump ahead right now and look up the portfolio, but I want to remind you, there are 7 Simple Steps you have to follow to make this work. If you haven’t figured out where you’re going to get the money to invest, you haven’t figured out what your goals are, and you don’t know what the rules of the game are, then access to the best portfolio in the world will be worthless. So stay with me, and let’s stay in sequence. There’s a method to my madness!
How valuable is that information from Ray Dalio? If others have to have $5 billion to get access, and it cost you only the price of this book, then it’s not a bad return on investment!
As exciting as it was to learn his investment system, what I found most interesting about Ray is how he looks at the world. He sees it as a jungle, and his life as a constant, exhilarating battle.
“The way I look at life, Tony, we all have something we want, something that represents a greater quality of life. But to get there, you have to go through a jungle filled with challenge. If you pass through it, you get to the life you desire. It’s like I’m on one side of the jungle,” he told me. “And you could have a terrific job, a terrific life if you can cross that jungle. But there are all of these dangerous things and they can all kill you. So, do you stay on one side and have a safe life, or do you go into the jungle? How do you approach that problem?”
Ray goes into the jungle with very smart and trusted friends by his side, always asking, “What don’t I know?” “This is the key thing,” he said. “What has been very successful for me through my whole life is to not be arrogant about knowing, but to embrace the fact that I have weaknesses; that I don’t know a lot about this, that, and the other thing. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.”
Is that ever the truth! And I was a living example. I went into this book thinking I knew what I was doing. After all, I’d had decades of experience. But during my four-year quest to meet the best investors on earth, I’ve been humbled over and over again by how much I didn’t know. And I found that unlike the talking heads who claim to have all the answers, the best are essentially humble. Like Ray Dalio, they’ll tell you what they think and then admit they could be wrong.
Riches are not an end of life, but an instrument of life.
—HENRY WARD BEECHER
As my journey continued, I found my mission was evolving. At each stop along the way, I was discovering tools, opportunities, and investment products available to ultrawealthy people that the average person never hears about. And ironically, some of the best ones have very little risk, or they have limited risk with what they call asymmetric risk/reward—which means the investors get a big upside potential for very little downside exposure. And that’s what the “smart money” lives for.
It was exciting for me to find out about these opportunities and take advantage of some of them, because at this stage of my life, I’m old enough, fortunate enough, and well off enough financially to have those choices. But my sons and my daughter don’t, and some of my dearest friends don’t, and, most important, likely neither do you (unless you’ve got tens of millions stashed away and you’re just reading this to see where Ray Dalio puts his money).
So I changed from being just a passive information gatherer in the world of investing to becoming a passionate advocate for my friends and readers. I wasn’t just going to tell you about something that wealthy people get to do; I wanted to open up these opportunities for everyone. So I looked for companies that have focused exclusively on the ultrawealthy and then worked to convince them to create new opportunities for investors at any economic level or any age level. I’ve worked to highlight their services, and in some cases, I’ve gone all in and partnered with them to help create new products that will be available to you for the first time. But what I’m most proud of is that I’ve persuaded many of them to open up their services for people who are not wealthy—for free! You will learn how to access a complimentary online platform called Portfolio CheckUp (www.PortfolioCheckUp.com) that will allow you to test-drive your broker and see if you’re truly overpaying for underperformance. I’m hoping this could be the beginning of a sea change in the world of personal finance, a real leveling of the playing field for the first time.
Why in the world do they do this? First, it’s the right thing to do. People need to know what they are truly paying for. Second, they know that people with lots of money didn’t always start out with lots of money. It’s the secret to wealth, remember? Do more for others than anybody else does. And if they do this for you at this stage of your life, they’re betting you won’t forget them in the future. You’ll become a raving fan and a loyal client forever.
That’s financial synergy. An opportunity to create the elusive win-win that rarely shows up in the world of Wall Street.
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
One of the great gifts of “mastering the game” is not only being able to win but to have enough to make a difference for others. No matter how difficult our situation may be, there are always people who are suffering more. When someone creates wealth, it’s his or her privilege, and, I believe, his or her responsibility, to give back to those who are just beginning the journey or those who have experienced tragedies that have knocked them off the path. As I will share with you later, my family was the recipient of a simple act of kindness when we literally had no food, and that changed my entire perspective on people and life. It helped shape who I am today.
So for decades I have worked to give back by feeding more than 2 million people a year through my Anthony Robbins Foundation, and for the last few years, my wife and I have personally matched all their contributions.
Today I’m proud to say that a kid who started with no food personally helps 4 million people a year to feel cared for and fed. In total, over 38 years, I’ve had the honor to feed 42 million people.
I want to use this book as a vehicle to help you develop enough wealth—both physical and emotional—so that you can be a force for good through your economic contributions as well as your time. I will tell you, though, if you won’t give a dime out of a dollar, you won’t give $1 million out of $10 million. The time to give is now! When I had nothing, I began this process. The reward is that if you give, even at the times when you think you have very little, you’ll teach your brain that there is more than enough. You can leave scarcity behind and move toward a world of abundance.
So I’d like to get you started on this path. As you read this book, know that you are not only helping yourself create a new financial future, but you are helping those 17 million American families who face hunger every day.2
How? I decided to do more in one year than I have in my entire lifetime. In the name of my readers, at the time of the first publication, I committed to providing 50 million meals to the men, women, and children in this country who suffer from hunger. I am proud to say that we exceeded our goal and provided 100 million meals in the first year alone! It opened to mind to what’s really possible and I am now financially committed to providing a quarter billion meals by the end of 2016 with the ultimate goal of 1 billion meals over the first decade since the original publication date.
You’d be surprised who these people are that are in such great need. Yes, some have been scarred by memories of serving in war and some are mentally or physically challenged. But millions are people just like you and me, who had a normal life and then the loss of a job, a health problem, or a family loss pushed them over the edge to where they could not meet their financial obligations. Most Americans are only a few lost paychecks away from insolvency. So together let’s reach out to help.
As I was writing this book, Congress slashed $8.7 billion from the food stamp budget. I witnessed firsthand the devastating impact this had on the volunteers and nonprofit organizations that work in the fight against hunger. That’s why I put up 50 million meals, and I’m using my influence to get matching funds so that we can provide 100 million meals to feed the hungry. You’re welcome to join in and help, but know this: because you bought the book, the one you are holding in your hand or reading on your iPad, you’re personally feeding 50 people. My hope is that by the end of this book, you’ll be inspired to make a small direct donation on your own as well. I have information in the last chapter on how you can use your “spare change to help change the world.” There are so many simple and enjoyable ways in which you can give and create a legacy you can feel truly proud of.
Whew, this has been quite a full chapter! I know it’s a lot, but hopefully it doesn’t feel long! Do I have you hooked on what’s really possible for your life now? Can you imagine what it will feel like to take yourself from where you are today to where you really want to be? What would it be like to have your experience of money no longer be a source of stress but rather a feeling of excitement and pride? I promise you the feelings you will have as you conquer this area of your life will create a new momentum not only with financial success but also in other areas of life that matter even more! Are you ready?
One final note, if you’ve read this far, I want to compliment you because, unfortunately, you’re in the top 10% of people who buy a nonfiction book. That’s right: statistics show that fewer than 10% of people who buy a book ever read past the first chapter. How insane is that? I wrote this book to be simple but also to give you the opportunity to go deep—to master the game, to arm you with the skills to master your financial world once and for all. It’s not meant to be a “little red book of investing.” So I want to invite you now, and challenge you, to commit to take the full journey with me through these pages. I promise you the rewards you will reap will last for decades to come.
So turn the page and let me first give you a quick overview of what it will take to have an income for life—a paycheck that gives you the life you have (or the lifestyle you desire) without ever having to work again. Once you achieve this, you will work only if and because you want to. Let’s grab an outline of the road ahead and discover the 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.
1. Except for a few “unicorns,” a tiny and exclusive group of “financial wizards” that the general population does not have access to, but I’ll introduce you to in the chapters ahead.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
One reviewer on here claimed Ch.2 and Ch.5 are worth both "their weight in gold" and the price of the whole book. Either this reviewer fails to understand what he reads or likes to dramatize insignificant chapters.
First, the interviews are cookie cutter questions and answers such as diversify, do not try to time the market, buy when the market is cheap, and hold for the long term. All of this is general advice that is mostly unhelpful when you sit down and try to apply the advice in real life.
Further, this same reviewer claims "he cannot believe" the chapter that discloses Ray Dalio's All Weather allocation. First, just like he generally discloses in this book, Ray Dalio has publicly disclosed his All Weather's general asset allocation (just search the web): about 40% long-term bonds, 15% intermediate bonds, 7.5% gold, 7.5% commodities, 30% stocks.
Moreover, generally disclosing the asset classes fails to disclose the most important part: what specific assets to purchase? Which bonds? 10 year? 30 year? Which commodities? Corn? Wheat? Copper? Crush? Lumber? Even if you decide which commodities, then how do you invest - futures? ETFs? mutual funds? Even if you decide how to invest, which specific future period, or which specific ETF? So you see Ray Dalio does not give away the secret sauce to his $180B+ All Weather Fund.
If you want advice on how to manage your money then go directly to the source - listen to Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger, Paul Tudor Jones (& yes, I know this guy gives therapeutic counseling to Paul), Stanley Druckenmiller, Joel Greenblatt, George Soros (minus his insider trading), Jim Rogers (more of a 10+ year, long term, investor), Peter Lynch, and Ray Dalio - just to name a few.
The following lists some great investing books that I read:
1. The entire Market Wizards series written by Jack Schwager (a great series if you want to get into heads of the greatest traders & consistently most profitable over the long term).
a. Market Wizards (1989).
b. The New Market Wizards (1992).
c. Stock Market Wizards (2001).
d. Hedge Fund Market Wizards (2012).
2. One Up On Wallstreet by Peter Lynch (a great read if someone wants to more actively research individual companies). 3. You Can Be a Stock Market Genius by Joel Greenblatt (on point if you want to manage your money & yes, I hate the book's title but love the content - some readers of this book have gone on to become hedge fund managers).
4. Renaissance of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre (a classic).
5. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy (more of a long term, 50+ years, look on economic cycles).
6. Two great books on behavioral finance are The Crowd by Gustave Lebon and Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay.
7. Hot Commodities by Jim Rogers (gives some of the basics of commodities and hints at how to invest - expect to gain some insights but no where near enough to invest individually).
8. Investment Biker by Jim Rogers and Adventure Capitalist also by Jim Rogers (more entertainment than about investing - Jim traveled the world looking for undiscovered investments, twice).
9. Principle by Ray Dalio (about having the right mindset - not about investing directly).
10. A Random Walk Down Wallstreet by Burton Malkiel (I do not agree with author's thesis but his own ideas help show the market acts inefficiently).
11. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Phillip Fisher (about how to research companies to determine whether you should invest or not - fair warning, not the best writer but top notch material).
12. A Complete Guide to the Futures Market by Jack Schwager (if you want to invest or trade futures then you must read this book. If you can read through the book then you MAY have a chance at successfully investing or trading futures. Commodity investing firms used to require their new hires to read this book - some people quit their commodity jobs after reading several chapters).
13. Why the Best-Laid Investment Plans Usually Go Wrong & How You Can Find Safety & Profit in an Uncertain World
by Harry Browne (more about general ideas and its pitfalls - written in 1987 but directly applicable to today).
14. Why Stocks Go Up And Down : A Guide to Sound Investing by William Pike (about the accounting side of investing - people like Warren Buffet would say the most important part).
15. The Big Short by Michael Lewis and Liars Poker by Michael Lewis (both more entertaining than about how to invest).
16. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham (1934 edition) (the bible of value investing - how to value companies. Ben was Warren Buffet's mentor).
17. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (basically about 40% of the same thing Security Analysis says).
18. A Treasury of Wall Street Wisdom by Harry Schultz (similar to Market Wizard series but not as in-depth but Harry interviewed the greatest investors between the early 1930s including Charles Dow - if you ever heard of the Dow Theory then this is the same guy).
You can also read all of Warren Buffet's annual letters to his shareholders (going back to 1977) for free on the Berkshire Hathaway website (Buffet gives sage advice that is directly applicable to today). Importantly, Warren Buffet recommends that the average investor is better off investing in the S&P500 ETF (such as SPY) because a majority of the hedge funds, mutual funds, and individual investors under perform the S&P500. Why pay fees when most of them underperform.
On the other hand, even when Peter Lynch managed the Megellan Fund at Fidelity from 1977 to 1990 (the most successful mutual fund in the world), averaging 29% return per year (double the return of the S&P500), most investors who invested in the Megellan Fund lost money. How you ask? How in the world did most investors lose money when the Megellan Fund averaged 29% per year? Because when the fund was down, investors pulled money out (sold), and when the fund was up, investors piled money in (bought). In other words, the average investor's physiological mind told herself (or himself) to sell low and buy high.
The crowd mentality and their delusions and the madness is in human nature that will unlikely change. I think most investors will continue to lose money as they search for the nonexistent "holy grail" to get rich quickly. When your neighbor tells you about a great stock to buy and how you cannot lose money then close your wallet and run the other way.
Looking at things another way, when everyone around you thinks the same thing and invests in the same thing, maybe you should ask yourself whether you are part of the herd that is about to get slaughtered.
Making money in the market is probably one of the hardest things you can do. People who say they are going to make money in the market on the side is like a someone saying they are going to make extra money on the side by performing brain surgery on the weekends. The average investor has a better chance of making the Olympics than consistently making money in the market. These are the harsh truths that people will refuse to listen to.
Thus, the market will continue to act irrationally and create bubbles such as the Tulip bubble, the South Sea Company bubble, the Dot-Com bubble, the 2007 Housing bubble, and the most recent bubble, the Bitcoin bubble (still in progress and not to be confused with blockchain technology).
I may have gone off on a tangent here but with so many great books out there, I do not see how you could have the time to waste reading this book.
*Generally About Me (it is fair to wonder who the author of this post is)*
I started investing when I was 19 years old (I blew multiple accounts and learned my investing lessons the hard way). In the past, I worked as an investment banker and stockbroker (I worked my way up from the bottom).
After spending over 10 years in the securities and financial markets, I began to understand how difficult it is to consistently make money in the market (if you look at the market and see dollar signs then you are in trouble; if you look at the market and see danger signs everywhere then you are on the right path).
For the last 5 years, my average annual return is 30%+ (S&P 500 is about 8.9%). However, you should not think that I easily averaged 30% per year. Quite the contrary. I spent countless hours researching and analyzing my investment ideas. I constantly thought about different scenarios. Even after I invested, I continued to research and analyze any new developments and re-assessed my own thoughts. I invested only if I 100% understood what I was doing. I invested only if the odds were significantly in my favor. Above anything else, I protected my capital. Even if it meant watching opportunities go by (and I watched many do so). In short, investing is not a hobby for me. It is my profession.
Investing is what I love to do (I know it sounds cliche). But if I did not love "the investing game," I would have to be crazy to spend so much of my time and effort fighting through obstacles and problems to succeed. My love of the investing game is what kept me going where most other people gave up. I spend years trying to learn how to invest. Years. Think about that. Years. And I do not mean, on and off. I mean a majority of the 365 days.
I think this principle applies to almost anything in your life (not just investing). Do what you enjoy - not for the money, for the glory, not for the bragging rights, not for anyone else, not for anything — other than for youself.
-To give you some background I've been reading personal finance books since the late 90's starting with titles like 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' by Robert Kiyosaki, 'Automatic Millionaire' by David Bach, every Dave Ramsey and Ben Stein title ever written, most of Larry Burkett's scripture based Business and Finance books and Crown Financial information, Random Walk down wall street, etc. etc. To make a long story short let's just say I've read dozens of personal finance or retirement books starting from age 16 up until my present age of 31 so I can tell when something is new or old fluff, or just plain made up. I've also an investor so I have skin in the game.
-Some people are reading these reviews and they just want to know if this book will help them manage their money or make money, and to cut to to the chase yes this book can both make you alot of money and save you even more money. After reading Tony's book I've placed it among the top 10 personal finance titles I've ever read and that list reads like the who's who of books that can actually make a huge impact on the financial future of the average American. If you don't like to read it doesn't matter, just buy the book and read Chapter 2 and 5 and then give it to a friend or delete it, but just read those two chapters.
-What makes this book so valuable and easily worth the price I paid ($12 on Kindle). Let me summarize, and we're going to throw out all the chapters and information that was motivational jargon because I didn't buy this book to be motivated on living life to the fullest and I don't think most of you reading this did either.
1. THE INTERVIEWS. Most of these interviews were not rehash's of what you could find in other books, and a couple of them could be downright life altering if people were to employ some of the advice given by a few of the men or start to follow a few of these men with regard to what they are doing with their investments. The possible life-changing and or interviews that offered terrific advice, tidbits of information that could save you time and money, stock market psychology, and or getting insight into those with your interest at heart. If you browse Yahoo finance and or blogs you can occasionally glean tidbits of gold regarding finance wisdom from some of the best of the best who have both integrity and the average joe investor in mind when they are giving out advice. These are some of the men who realize that most people who need this information are not making a 6 figure income and yet while most of them have wealth in the 7 figure range they don't forget about the rest of us and want to help us to avoid mistakes with our money.
Carl Icahn. Rarely does this man give longer interviews, but Tony Robbins just may have one of the best interviews ever done with Carl Icahn. Carl Icahn is an activist investor. This type of investor attempts to take control of companies they believe are underperforming(usually due to poor management) and then take them over or make changes that will benefit both the shareholder and the activist. As a result in most cases employees and customers benefit also. Carl Icahn is one of the few power brokers on Wall Street who by following you can make quite a bit of money because he will make a poorly operating company do better by holding management accountable, and as a result he has and will continue to help the American People by making our companies more efficient and better which can enrich everyone. After you read this interview you will understand why it's important to follow the moves this man makes.
David Swensen. Great interview, a good overview of asset allocation and risk management, shows why playing it safe for a long time is smart. Great tidbits to learn.
Ray Dalio. Just getting the broken down into easy terms "All Weather Portfolio" is worth the price of the book alone and much more. This information is covered in Chapter 5. He must have owed Tony a huge debt to give out this information. Next to an index fund this is the best portfolio I've ever seen and the results it has brought prove it. You won't find anything better, but most people should have a broad ranged index fund before attempting to copy an allocation like the all weather.
Paul Tudor Jones. Some of the investing psychology(not stock picking advice, but market psychology) he gives in his interview is as if you are sitting in a premier top 10 MBA rated program's class and studying under his stock market tutelage. You simply can't hear these things anywhere else and unless your in a very elite group that are getting MBA's at the very top finance schools you probably never will.
John Bogle. What more can anyone say, he revolutionized investing for the common man by introducing the index fund and if you don't have one you really need one ASAP. Watch every interview with John Bogle you can find on youtube if you want a quick study in long term investing with the best possible outcome for the average person. I personally believe John Bogle has made more of an impact on the finances of the average American than anyone in history ever has or ever will, he truly is both a pioneer and a sort of modern day hero who put the common man above greed and reshaped Wall Street and investing forever.
Warren Buffet. I can tell in this interview Mr. Buffet was just doing Tony a favor by giving a short interview to a friend but he didn't really give any advice you couldn't find anywhere else nor did he dive into any strategies or ideas for the common person. I put him with these others because of his track record. If you purchase a few of his BRK-B stock shares and hold them for a very long time you will probably do pretty well, but Warren Buffet would tell all average investors to get an index fund and not try their hand at picking stocks. He basically will mimic what John Bogle says in most of his interviews but John Bogle goes much deeper, is more interesting, has more integrity, and just does it better.
-Yes a few of the interviews were not very good and I discuss those below. They in my opinion revealed little information, did not know how to convey investment advice to the average person, or just came across as sort of a self pat on the back in my opinion and wouldn't make much impact to the future financial wellness of the reader. Remember, just because someone is ultra wealthy in no way means they have you interest in mind nor can their advice or circumstances be applied to your own life.
-These people from this book in my opinion who you shouldn't listen to include:
Marc Faber(Commodities speculator who is a very shrewd and astute insider, I don't think he can be trusted personally, but when it came to giving advice he came across as a guy just throwing information out there just to give an interview almost as if he wasn't really sure what to say, like he was picking random numbers out of his head and giving them to Tony.)
T. Boone Pickens (Just talks about himself most of the interview, you can find better advice elsewhere.)
Kyle Bass (Made most of his money off an incredible speculation and talks about purchasing millions in nickels with little information given for the regular investor. It's my belief he either isn't very knowledgeable when it comes to investing for regular people or he simply cannot convey the information in a manner with tools he has never used for the average person. He is an algorith based trader and has access to both tools and information most people don't have. I would never listen to his advice based upon his history even though he is successful, his success cannot be repeated.
-I group these next three together because their interviews mainly went through their personal histories and discussed why the success occurred and the importance of integrity and a customer first approach in the finance world:
Mary Callahan Erdoes, Charles Schwab, Sir John Templeton (Mostly discusses the type of work ethic, integrity, and fortitude needed to be successful and also to leave a legacy for your family or people who's money you are investing.
-So what makes this book so valuable, and why am I saying you must include this in your collection if you're a person under 50 looking to improve your finances.
2. Simply because of Chapter 2 and Chapter 5.
-Chapter 2 covers some of the things you've read in other finance books before, usually John Bogle's or Ben Stein's, but it discusses the Myths of the market and advisor fees. It discusses investment broker actual returns and debunks many of the common beliefs among the uneducated majority regarding how to make money with investing or retirement plans. The way this chapter is organized regarding the myths of the market and annuities is invaluable. The information on annuities for anyone under 50 is pure gold, and I have yet to see even a handful of books that ever covered the Annuity, which is starting to grow like wildfire and probably the best option for most of us with less than $500,000-1,000,000 at retirement.
-Chapter 5. This is the best chapter of the book bar none. Ray Dalio's all weather portfolio is simply unmatched and having an in-depth guide of why and how it was designed, and then actually broken down into easy to understand choices is truly incredible. Yes you can and should invest in an Index Fund, and by now we know that 95% of portfolio managers will never beat the stock market over a long time frame such as 20-30 years, but the all weather portfolio created by Ray Dalio's team just may give you better or at least safer returns with less downside risk than even a broad market index fund. I'm still left wondering how Tony got them to do this and give up this much information on this fund. On top of that, there is a larger annuity and retirement information section which goes in depth on the importance of the 3 year window into retirement and how just the stock market return of the first 3 years of a person's retirement can make or break them, and WILL... unless they read the information on annuities.
-On top of all this great information, section after section has Tony giving good links on how to access both more information. Going through this book you can see that Tony actually cares to help the uneducated average investor gain the tools to invest both wisely and and safely. Most finance books give you the what to do(or at least attempt to), but Tony's goes beyond and actually gives you both tools and the where to go to get more information and possibly help.
-To top of these great chapters there is also a chapter on the future of American technology which goes into the advances being made in healthcare and engineering with the creation of 3D printers and how people are continually living longer so what we do with our money today is very important for a potentially long tomorrow. On top of this unlike many finance books, Tony goes into the importance of giving and how it can change a person's life and bring more fulfillment far beyond any dream or desire to be rich. Tony actually explains how and why giving is so important, and it's refreshing to see even a non Christian hold such a high view of giving our time and resources back to those who are less fortunate.
So take my review for what you will, as someone who's read dozens of finance books and will only give applause to something that is both different and worth reading and knowing. I believe this book is very good just for those 2 chapters, especially if you are under 50 and have a long term horizon to invest with and haven't made tons of mistakes yet. For those who ar e older they undoubtedly should discuss retirement with a financial planner and look into insurance/annuities and stable funds. Below I will list my top Finance guru's and what I believe are some of the must read books in this field that all have information that can change your financial future as this book can do.
Best personal finance guru's, the very best of the best who's work you must read and I will include one book from each. These people have care about the common investor above selling books or making money. While some of the information may be a little outdated in one or two of these books, these are still the best of the best by far.
Must reads for personal finance with investment advice also
John Bogle (The Little book of common sense investing, watch his interviews on youtube or yahoo)
Larry Burkett (The complete guide to managing your money, planning for Retirement, Business by the Book)
Ben Stein (How to retire comfortably, The little black book of investing, how to ruin your financial future, most of his books)
Great books on investing that don't cover personal finance
Burton Malkiel (A Random Walk down Wall Street)
William Bernstein (The Four Pillars of Investing)
Honorable Mentions for personal finance, financial lifestyle etc.
Dave Ramsey(We all know about his books, very good for basic advice regarding personal budgeting, not better than the previously mentioned writers or their titles though)
David Bach (Automatic millionaire, Fight for your Money)
Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad)
Ramit Sethi (I will teach you to be rich)
Thomas Stanley (Millionaire next door)
Are there any people you should be watching when it comes to how they are investing their money?
Only two in my opinion. Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn. Both of their basic stock offerings are in the 100's still. I believe Carl Icahn's IEP is up over 1000% since inception and Buffet's BRK-B is up 24% this year alone. Watch what Warren Buffet does because he has insider access to large changes in the economy and the government, and watch Carl Icahn because he creates huge changes in companies by forcing their management to become better in every way and with that usually comes great returns for shareholders.
There are portions of this book that rely on, or work in conjunction with an app. The app has since been changed and is now missing functionality that is needed to complete activities in the book. Also the app is not available on Android at all.
It also heavily promotes the company "Creative Planning" and he mentions you can go to their website to get a complete free evaluation of your current portfolio (what you're paying, fees and how they impact retirement, potential risk exposure, etc.). Please note that this tool is no longer something that is offered on the site. You can email them, but they won't provide the tool and instead will try to have you become a client.
Top international reviews
The book? Useless. I am not a native speaker but you don't need to be to see that this guy speaks waaay too much without actually saying anything. He has no respect for your time. Even the good ideas touched upon in this book such as the principles of compounding were presented in a way that left me unimpressed. The mighty idea of this book is that you should have bonds/equities/gold and commodities rather than just shares. In case you did not know, equities are much more volatile than bonds. 500 + pages just for this. Well, you heard it now. Read John Bogle or Benjamin Graham. This book ended in the bin.
The notion of investing in Mutual Funds was completely obliterated, this I definitely support. Just index guys, through DCA in my opinion. Another thing I like about this book is when he asked about what amount of money will satisfy you? One guy said a billion dollars and instead of just ignoring his, Tony went ahead and showed him how it doesn't take much money (critical mass) to maintain your dream level of lifestyle.
Many concepts in this book are American so Indian readers should search for Indian equivalents of those concepts and the Ray Dalio portfolio diversification, well someone should backtest that on the Indian market.
Either way, you can just index with NIFTY or SENSEX with Dollar-Cost averaging.
If you know how to invest and how to not get emotional during mass pessimism, then this diversification is not for you and you are massively limiting yourself. Cautionary note, you should really be able to invest yourself though, not trading but INVESTING.
The best part of the book in my opinion were the final chapters, the act of giving. So whoever says money can't provide happiness is dead wrong. It enables you to help those in need and that will definitely make you happy, more than any amount of money will ever be able to do.
On a final note, this is a definite read and Indian folks, look for Indian equivalents of these American plans and be sure to apply these principles in your personal life, "Knowledge is not power, it's potential power. Application of knowledge correctly in your life is power".
This book has made me want to save in way of investing. This book shows you that investing is the the smarter way to be rich even if the interest rates go up!
I am not very good at maths and technical finance stuff and saving. This book is presented in a way in which everyone can understand and Tony Robbins really goes out of his way to make sure the average Joe can understand. So I understand the maths plus the financial stuff. In fact, there is an app which is free to use and referenced in the book that does all the maths for you when it comes to compound interest. Furthermore, now I understand how compound interest works and using the app to find out what my predicted results will be I am saving my money by investing it. The app even encouraged me to save more than I would have typically. This is because of the results it shows you which are possible and that you can do the process of this on the app over and over again to see the difference in how much it will be worth. Additionally, the app and the book makes you look at ways you can tweak your current finances to save more for your future.
This book is highly motivating and useful to those who already save regularly or people like me who were not saving anything.
An added bonus is that buying the book you are feeding people as Tony Robbins is not making money on this book. Instead, he is using the money to feed people who are in poverty.
I really have nothing negative to say about this book!
The item arrived promptly and well packaged.
It gets “only” 4 stars because is very USA specific but all principles are applicable anywhere, you just need to do some research to understand how to achieve the same in your country.
I think anyone interested in wealth and financial security can get value from this book.
And absolutely DO the actions.I
If you read it honestly you see you have very few legitimate excuses for not getting stuff done.
Much of what he says is common sense but it is explained in such a egg that you unbeaten it all.
Be aware that it's a very long book and each chapter could be it's own book.
Also, it refers to an accompanying app I could never find. Most odd.
Still, pen and paper suffice.
Massive respect to Tony though for even attempting to bring this knowledge and advice down to the man on the street. Only Tony could peruade these Goliaths of the financial industry to share their expertise so generously.
It is only good for the middle class fixed salary people who don’t have the courage or knowledge to start their own business and want to park a part of their salary in Tony Robins finance firm.
And Nothing about real Money.
Its tips with references about how to park money with mediocre returns. I feel a usual banks FD will be much safer and hassle free than all the other low return investment tools shown in this book in the Indian context.
I am a solid Tony Robbins fan and have all of his books from Unlimited Power, Unleash... and watched every one of his videos, audibles.
This one was really disappointing, I must say Tony should not do content related to Money Making.
Tony is good with motivation, inspiration and positive psychology but not with money related topic.