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Read This Book to Build the Right Mental Model for Generating Wealth

Mayank Dwivedi is a working professional, who is on a journey of personal wealth creation (and discovery).

Overall Book Summary

Overall Rating: Four out of Five

"Think & Grow rich" book has been an international bestseller for almost a century now since it was first published in 1928, and rightly so. The lessons in this book are as relevant now, as they were back in 1920s. In order to learn the right mindset, and develop the right habits and behavior to achieve more out of your life, read this book. As a side perk, you will get to know a number of one-liner wisdom phrases that you can use in the next company speech you deliver !

The narration of the book is slightly dated, and gets prescriptive after a point. Owing to this, I have removed a star from the overall rating. However, this book is still recommended for people in all phases in their life, with a desire to achieve more from their lives. Because - why not?

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What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve

— Napoleon Hill

Kindle vs Paperback Book?

Kindle !

I bought a paperback version from amazon. However, the pages of the paperback book are thin, and words of the next page are partially visible while reading the front part of the page. This is annoying and confusing, and drives a poor reader experience. The font of the book is also smaller than what I am used to reading. Hence, I recommend reading this book on Kindle. The Kindle version of the book is 93% cheaper than the paperback, and costs just INR 7/- in India (one US cent).

Success requires no apologies, failures permit no alibis

— Napoleon Hill

My ‘Aha’ moment while reading this book

Many people, like me, dream of starting the next big company and becoming the top 10 richest people in the world. What stops us? A key 'stopping' factor, which limits our ambition to a dream, is the fact that acquiring so much knowledge to start a company and beat all your competitors is daunting. It is a common acknowledged fact that in order to be the best in terms of services you offer, products you sell; you need to have specialized knowledge. Without knowledge, and an organized plan to put that knowledge to the real world, there is no material progress (or wealth creation). This seemingly impossible task of gathering vast amount of specialized knowledge to start the next billion dollar company prevents us from progressing on our dream, and we get back to our daily 9-5 corporate job routine.

In chapter 5 and 6 of the book, the author talks about specialized knowledge and imagination. He tells us that specialized knowledge can be acquired from multiple sources such as books, library, colleges/education, one’s experience. However, specialized knowledge can also be acquired from a team, or a group of people working with you. He explains with an example of Henry Ford being questioned by lawyers who were trying to prove that he is ignorant. Henry Ford, after a long line of questioning from the lawyers, replied that at the press of a button he can summon a specialized expert who can answer any question the lawyers had. This statement floored the lawyers, and me too ! The author went on to explain that what separates immensely successful (and wealthy people) from successful people, is the capability to generate ideas. Knowledge can be found around the corner, or you can hire people who are experts in their domain to fill a knowledge gap. However, having the imagination to develop an idea, and then having the determination to work towards an organized plan is what matters the most. Acquired Knowledge combined with organized planning leads to real-world implementation of your idea - the next billion dollar company. These chapters made me shed some weight of mental tension that I used to get when thinking of starting a company. Once, you realize that specialized knowledge is available (or accessible), you can start focusing on the idea and a plan to organize knowledge to achieve the idea. Somewhat easy - right?

Anything acquired without effort, and without cost is generally unappreciated, often discredited

— Napoleon Hill

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My top three learnings from the book

Learning 1: How human psychology plays in favor of/against success

It is not news to many of us that a person’s psychology impacts his approach towards life, career, and this eventually plays a large part in one's success/failure. This book is all about forming the right mental model, and right habits to achieve success and wealth in life. From the point to setting up clear goals desired by you, to putting your faith and belief in it, to the point of dealing with procrastination and being persistent, this book guides you to be your best friend. It provides you tips of developing good habits, surrounding yourself with positive minded people, and ignoring the naysayers. It helps you recognize the positive and negative emotions, and ways to dealing with them to your advantage.

Learning 2: The Importance of Subconscious

The author tells its readers to train their subconscious in order to be successful. He does this by three ways: (a) Saying out loud what you desire, and what plan you have to achieve it. Saying out loud makes your mind hear in your own words your desire, and plan to achieve it. Thus, making your desire more concrete, and known to your mind. This somewhat resembles with the concept of announcing your plans (or new year resolutions) publicly (on social media). Doing this makes you more responsible to go through the plan, as you have announced it publicly. (b) Repetition/Auto-Suggestion: Author tells readers to develop a habit of autosuggestion, or in author’s words: “giving orders to your subconscious". Doing this will reinforce what you want to achieve, and your mind will start thinking and working towards your desire. This makes sense to me - the more your mind share towards your desire, the more ways your mind will be able to think of achieving it.

Learning 3: How to be more imaginative

After laying down the concept that pursuing ideas is the most well rewarding way of generating wealth, the author explains how to be more imaginative. The author divides types of imagination into two: Synthetic Imagination: where ideas are derived from old concepts/plans; and Creative Imagination: this relates to hunches/inspiration. These are entirely new ideas. Just as your muscle develops with use, both these types of imagination grow with their use, and intense desire to achieve something. Author asks readers to immerse themselves into the final outcome they envision, devise a plan to get there, and onboard expert people to help you get there. As your mind is constantly throbbing to achieve the desired outcome, you are bound to come across great ideas - either synthetic or derived ones, along your pursuit to achieve the desired outcome. Philosophical as it may sound, but I could correlate to this concept. When I am too deep to solve a problem, I am constantly thinking of the problem when in shower, when taking my morning walk - and sooner or later an idea or a thought crosses my mind which happens to make me move forward addressing the problem. I believe the minds makes it work what you constantly and vehemently desire.

Opinions are the cheapest commodity on the earth. People who are easily influenced by opinions of others can never have desire of their own.

— Napoleon Hill

Three things I liked about the book

Like 1: Simple Stories to drive home the point

The author uses simple stories to drive home his point. Example: the story titled “Three Feet Gold” tells about how an industrialist attempted to mine gold. However, after not finding the vein of gold as expected, he gave up and sold his drilling machinery to a junk dealer. The junk dealer, however, was smart, and took the advice of a mining engineer to calculate the vein of gold, which was only three feet away from point where the industrialist had stopped drilling. Thus, the moral of the story being to not be deterred by temporary defeat, and seek expert counsel before giving up. Another inspiring story from the book is the “Fifty Cent Lesson”, where a small colored girl demands duly owned 50 cents from her mother’s white, ill-tempered employer. The girl stands her ground, despite the white employer shouting at the girl to get lost, and even threatens her with a barrel stave. The girl does not leave till she gets her 50 cents. For other interesting story lessons from this story, you will have to read the book :-).

Like 2: Enabling readers by overcoming behavioral blockers

Unlike articles which give a five step framework to achieve success, or generate wealth, the author goes beyond a simple framework to talk in depth about behavioral attributes in a person which can hamper his/her chances at success. Example: the author talks about why people fail at being great leaders, and then gives important points to avoid leadership failure. Some points I really liked which deter you from becoming a great leader are: ‘Expectation of Pay for what your team knows vs what your team does using what they know’, ‘Fear of competition from your team members’, ‘Unwillingness to render humble service, and instead acting like a boss all the time’, ‘Confusing authority with leadership’. Another great list is the thirty major causes of failure mentioned in the book, which are focused on behavioral aspects holding back a person from achieving the success they deserve.

Like 3: Breaking down complex principles into simple steps

The author breaks down arduous looking goals into simple steps, which looks achievable and simple. Example: author emphasizes the use of “Power” to translate plans into action. Hence, the author defines Power as organized and directed knowledge. Once this is clear, the author describes sources of knowledge, which in turn can make one powerful. Sources of knowledge being: (a) Infinite intelligence: this can be achieved by creative and synthetic intelligence, described in other chapters of the book. (b) Accumulated Experience: this can be achieved from one’s own experience, from reading books and gaining from other people’s experience, or forming a team of experts who can pool in their experience into the common desired goal of the team. (c ) Experiment and Research: this form of knowledge creates new knowledge using the creative minds of experienced people. With this approach, now gaining power seems within your reach, isn’t it?

No more effort is required to aim high in life, to demand abundance and prosperity; than is required to accept misery and poverty

— Napoleon Hill

Why is this book's narration style dated?

There are some great stories and lessons embedded in this book. However one of the things that makes this book not so great is the narration. The narration is prescriptive. The author prescribes his way of achieving success, and earning money, based on his experience of seeing other American millionaires making great fortunes. Author uses too many adjectives, which, after a time, feels like a pushing tone of advice being mandated on you, and makes you feel that there is just one way as the author tells, and no other way to achieve success or wealth. The narration often has phrases and words marked in CAPITAL LETTERS. Every page has at least 3-4 phrases and words written in CAPITAL LETTERS. This is not only distracting, but to me is also a slightly rude way of writing.

The learnings sound religious, rather than logical. Example: the author asks the reader to follow the principles laid down in the book, word by word, and recite them every day like a morning prayer. Reciting success mantras in your voice is a motivating thing, however the author, in my opinion, takes it a little far, to the extent of prescribing a religious teaching that the readers should follow if they desire success and wealth, and without which they may not succeed. This is where I differ. Every person has a path of achieving success. Hurdles faced by a person with poor parents are different from hurdles faced by a person with rich parents, which in turn is different for a female person trying to succeed in a male dominated society. One cannot prescribe a certain path of success for everyone, rather than provide guidelines which can support one’s journey towards success.

Another aspect which confuses me, and sounds inappropriate, are some of the examples used by the author. One such example used by the author emphasizes the importance of a definite desire. The example is about a deaf boy, who refuses to admit that he is deaf, and refuses to learn sign language. Eventually, he comes across a hearing aid instrument, and is able to hear things. The example concludes that the deaf boy’s definite desire for normal hearing led to him hearing in real. This doesn’t make sense to me. If the deaf boy had gone on to invent the hearing aid, and was motivated by his hearing inability to solve for it, it would have been a different story. In my view, it is courageous to accept your disability, and still strive forwards towards success. Denying your disability, or weakness, is plain ignorance.

© 2021 Mayank Shekhar

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