(preface: thanks herk for lending me the book – knowing the cheapskate in me)
It’s liberating to know that yet another dude has succeeded in making such a book a best-seller (in a string of rich-dad-poor-dad-ish legacy). Pretend that my ego is still unperturbed for the moment – how could my thinking be so similar to this young chap, and yet everything I’m doing is somewhat the opposite of what his outcome is?
I had a long chat with Mark (sacrificing sleep), my only personal doctor for now, about some of the concepts that was brought up in the book, as well as those heavily discussed ones over the pass year, like “exit strategy”, “excellence”, “purpose driven life”, blah blah you know. What’s new from a quarter life “crisis” anyway.
So here’s my attempt to review some of the concepts, perhaps using my own or some close friends as examples, as well as suggestions on maybe adopting a different view.
Firstly, the fundamental tenant for most of these books is that business wise, product = good, service = bad. Service somehow means that you can’t get “out” of the system, either the skills are non-transferable, or people come to you as a person (e.g. you want that barber/cook regardless of where he works). Once you can hire others to do the work, then somehow it can be viewed as a product. Anyway, whether it is real estate or body vitamins, most of these wealthy people sell a “thing”. So if I were to adopt this thinking, then I should be approach it like Lester – resell scores, rather than actually writing and producing them – even though I might be able to somehow teach others to do it for me.
The other fundamental tenant for these books is that your life sucks, that’s why you picked up the book looking for a solution. I only realized this after that long conversation with Mark. You know what, looked from a different perspective, I’m enjoying my time a lot more being the “social” people in office, being unable to “reduce” my web browsing because information excites me so much, etc. That’s why I’m reconsidering all these things that Tim says “don’t do”. Yes, his formula makes sense. DEAL. Define Eliminate Automate Liberate. But I think you still have to apply it without taking away your happiness.
Using DEAL as a framework, I guess my own biggest problem is in D. EAL can be done, and will be done as needed. D is hard. The question that was posed to me by various people was innocuously simple: “What is your goal in life?” But somehow as you grow older, that becomes harder and harder to articulate. I told Mark, that depending on who asked me, I would have given a slight different variation of the answer, so that I could get more advise and more ideas to solidify that goal, to which he gave a totally different perspective: “No matter who asks me, I will always say I want to be a professor”. Wow, when can I get to that stage.
I tried some of the exercises in the book, of drawing dreamlines and scenario questions, but it was hard. It was as if these kind of people knows what they want (vacation la, life la etc.) but when I write mine down it’s mostly service for others and stuff like that, which I’m already doing!
Then I tried those “quit your job” type question, basically trying to get you to quit your job and do what they did to become the “New Rich” (allergic to that phrase…) – most of it doesn’t apply. I don’t like my job I go to another department and even rotation – I just can’t quit! Even when I let go all assumptions (e.g. can’t find half a million dollars) the end result is the same – I’d stay if the job allows me to learn new things or play with new toys or meet new people.
At least this book isn’t exactly useless for me, as the tips for E and A are rather timely. Just added on my to-do list is figuring out some of the recommended services. It’s not like I haven’t seen Your Man In India before or I don’t know how to eliminate the chores I have, but this book gives a cook book style instructions, making it easier for me to see how one thing can lead to another. That said, I think elimination is the best I can do now, apart from spending the rest of my energy mulling over the definition portion.
This book has its own entertaining values – I like the quotes and the anecdotes the best. Here’s one by Dave Barry (on page 270): Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign language :S
Still, Tim’s style of telling you what to do can be quite a gem. There’s little reservation, which I like. I quote some of my favorites here:
Page 222: Just because you are embarrassed to admit that you’re still living the consequences of bad decisions made 5, 10, 20 years ago shouldn’t stop you from making good decisions now. If you let pride stop you, you will hate life 5, 10, and 20 years from now for the same reasons.
Page 37: Unbeknownst to most fun-loving bipeds, not all stress is bad… Distress refers to harmful stimuli that makes you weaker, less confident, and less able… Eustress … is stress that is healthful and the stimulus for growth. Eu-, a Greek prefix for “healthy”, is used in the same sense in the word “euphoria”. There is no progress without eustress. The trick is telling the two apart.
Page 209: In Japan, a three-piece zombie who joins the 9-5 grind each morning is called a sarari-man – salaryman – and, in the last few years, a new verb has emerged: datsu-sara suru, to escape the salaryman lifestyle. It’s your turn to learn the datsu-sara dance.
Coming back to the matter of adopting some of these principles, or for me more of “revisiting” some of these principles, I also realize that if one has already internalize most of these so-called principals of the “new rich”, it becomes harder to reflect and change them. I’m not talking about the batching of e-mails or hiring a personal assistant bit, those are tips and tricks that should be applied based on circumstances – but those inherent believes, like assigning happiness or ambitions to arbitrary material or spiritual well-being. Each of us already got a story of our own lives. I think we are all much smarter than we think – we probably already know why we are stuck, we know why there’s in-action to change, why we’re even picking up books like these.
However, no matter how many of these books are published, 6+ billion people will still be stuck laboring. In fact, about 3 billion just came online recently thanks to the Internet, and joined the global pool of eternal labour. How to tell all of them to “not work in office, work from remote locations of the world”, “build a business and sell a product and then eliminate nonsense, automate the whole damn thing and go for your mini-retirement”. Maybe the trick is to be smart about it and have balls to give it a shot.
And even if we give all these cookbooks a shot, we shouldn’t forget what makes us tick, what makes us happy, who are we. Even the act of reading such a book can give one distress rather than eustress taken in the wrong light.
So Mark is leaving in August, to pursue his PhD. Let’s all wish him all the best!
(Click on the book to buy it from amazon)
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