If you’re interested in personal development, success or how to make money, you’ve probably read a lot of those “rags to riches” stories.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against them.
My problem with them is that:
- They’re often not true;
- They present an ideal situation to convince you to buy a course.
So how does this article win a price?
First, I’m not a millionaire. I don’t drive a Lamborghini and I don’t own a yacht and a penthouse.
What I did manage to achieve though, is to:
- Quit the 9 to 5 race;
- Achieve a decent financial independence;
- And build a location independent small business (while having a fulltime job)
Well, I used a magic pill called “A lot of Work™.
I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of videos. I went to events. And I tried to put into action most of the things I’ve read.
But what I want to tell you about is how these 5 books completely changed my life.
They’ve taught me how to:
- Have the same mindset 99% of billionaires have
- Persuade almost anyone, from customers to friends and family
- Double my productivity
- Start a small business even if I had a 9 to 5 job
- Always keep my motivation levels high and feel happy and good about myself (even during hard times)
And now I want to share with you some key lessons from each book and (I hope) convince you to read them too.
They’ve opened a whole new world for me and I’m 100% sure that will change your life too.
But there’s something more.
Theory is great. But practice is what kills us, right?
So I want to show you some actionable examples of how I applied each lesson to get new clients, to quit my job etc.
You’ll even find some useful templates you can steal and adapt for your own life or business.
So let’s dive right in.
The 5 Books That Changed My Career Trajectory
1. Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
Do you dream of becoming your own boss one day? Do you want to have multiple income streams and learn how billionaires think?
You should start with this book.
What’s so special about it?
It’s about something people don’t realize.
Getting rich isn’t just about information. If it were, everyone would be fit and healthy, right?
After all, everybody knows what you need to do to stay fit and healthy, right? A simple Google search will give us all we need.
What is it then?
It’s the mindset. Successful people have a different attitude about money.
Here are some key lessons from Rich Dad Poor Dad:
Work to learn. Don’t work for money
Most people try to go where they think the money is.
I used to do this too. Until I’ve heard Kiyosaki’s version too.
He says that rich people first decide what is the person they want to become and then work to learn the skills they need become that way.
If you want to become an NBA star, you don’t go to work in a financial corporation just because that’s where you earn the most money as quick as possible.
When I first read about this, I didn’t have a goal. Nor I knew how to set them up properly.
So I started thinking what would the perfect life or the perfect job be for me.
Of course, I tried not to go wild and dream about yachts and so on.
It was far from perfect, but it’s better than not having any, right?
Next, I tried to figure out what do almost all entrepreneurs have in common.
One thing: they all know how to sell. Sell themselves, sell products, sell services, it doesn’t matter. They know how to influence people in some way.
But I didn’t stop here.
I thought to myself: “What’s the number one skill that can help me in any area of my life – from selling stuff to getting a better-paid job or even get a girl’s number?”
The common answer I found for anything was: communication and persuasion.
So I said to myself “What the heck. If this guy is a millionaire, he must know something, right?”
So I didn’t wait much and I got an unpaid internship at a marketing company because I thought this is a great way to learn how to influence people.
And I’m glad I did! Because today I use the same skills to start and work for my own company.
You see, the free work paid off because it was just a step to achieve my goal.
Spend money on assets, not on liabilities
Did you notice this?
Probably 90% of people work hard, 8 hours a day to make a living. With that money they buy stuff expensive stuff, a lot of times just to keep up with the Joneses – a bigger car, a bigger house, a big TV etc.
Then they have to work even harder to pay for all the new stuff. And they just get caught up in this hamster wheel.
You know what rich people do?
Quite the opposite. They invest in things that make them money. Like renting an apartment. investing in a new business, buying stock or else.
Here’s how I tried to apply this lesson:
As a student, I had around $1000 in savings, money earned mainly from my scholarship. At that time I was in a dog lovers Facebook group.
I used the money to buy the group and I started selling dog clothes to that existing community.
You see, it’s not about the money I made. Because I didn’t buy a yacht from that gig.
It’s the mentality stuck with me to this day.
Now instead of investing all my money in a luxurious car, for example, I reinvest the money to grow the business and get more clients.
Then I can buy the car or whatever, without having to work my ass off to pay for it.
Be the dumbest person in the room
If you observe people who have a lot of money, you’ll notice something very interesting:
They all have rich friends. Actually richer friends.
And this is common sense.
If you want to start a business, hang out with people who already own one. You’re not going to learn how to run a business from people who don’t own one, right?
So start making friends that can teach you something. Friends that can help you grow in the direction you want to grow.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People
This book is gold.
You’ll find some principles that can help you in any area of your life, from making more money to becoming the most popular guy in any party/event/conference or influencing people.
Here are some key takeaways:
Never criticize, condemn or complain.
Nobody likes being criticized, right? Even if the other person is right, we still hate it.
So why do something people will resent you for it? Why should you put people on the defense mode by condemning them?
Here’s a better alternative.
I used this tactic when colleagues at work did something I didn’t agree with.
I tried to put myself in the other person’s shoes and even come up with an excuse for them.
“I should forgive him or her for this because …” and I ended up this sentence with an open mind.
Then I began by letting the other person know that I understand them.
“Hey, John, I noticed you [insert what he did wrong]. I guess it was probably because [insert some excuse they would tell themselves].
Next, I suggested a way of improvement.
“Here’s an alternative how we could improve this.”
Did you notice the difference?
It’s not me vs. him anymore. It’s we. And we don’t try to fix something bad, but we try to improve something.
Here’s another example. This is an email I sent to one of my designers I work with:
Sincerely appreciate the other person
Everyone like’s a compliment, right?
So… Did they achieve some great results? Congratulate them.
Did they screw up? Appreciate them for trying and suggest a way to improve.
“Ok, but that’s flattery and people don’t like it!”
You are right.
But here’s a trick to avoid sounding fake: be specific.
Instead of saying: “Wow, nice shoes.”, try something like “I like how your jacket goes with your monk shoes”.
Or, let’s say you send an outreach email to people you never met.
Avoid clichés like: “I liked your article about this subject”.
Instead, focus on the details: (source)
Let the other person do most of the talking
This trick will help you in any area of your life – from getting new clients faster and easier to becoming the most popular person in the room at any party.
Well, here’s the thing. Who are you more interested in: you or me?
Of course, it’s you. It’s perfectly normal, right?
Here’s how I used this tactic to close clients faster for my dental marketing agency.
In these situations, most business owners try to do most of the talking, mostly about how great their service is.
Instead, I asked a lot of questions like:
- What tactics they’ve tried so far?
- What worked best for you? What didn’t?
- What are their struggles?
- What is their objective?
- What makes buying your product or service necessary? What makes a customer buy right now?
- Are there seasonal buying patterns that affect your sales?
- What types of prospects are not a good fit for your company?
Why this works?
Because people feel that you’re genuinely interested in helping them.
Remember: if you find yourself speaking more than the other person, stop. Ask some questions.
3. Getting things done, by David Allen
Starting a business while also having a 9 to 5 job can be exhausting.
I usually got home after 6pm. And since I was just starting out with my new side business, I had to:
- Learn new things
- Get my first clients
- Get results for my new clients
The problem is after a while you don’t have the energy to do it anymore.
You get overwhelmed and you can’t see the big picture anymore, you cannot do the things that matter.
You just keep yourself busy, but not productive.
So, how did I manage to do twice as more in half the time? And how can you do it too?
Here are just a couple of tricks:
Organize your week and set priorities.
This helps you not miss the big picture. It helps you always make sure that you are on the right track to achieve your goals.
So here’s what you can do to avoid my mistakes.
Take some time at the beginning of each week and write down:
- Things you managed to do the previous week
- Things you didn’t manage to do
- And are your goals for the next week
Here’s how my weekly plan overview looks like:
Create specific, actionable tasks and assign a timeframe for each of them.
Here’s an example of how I used to plan my tasks:
No wonder I never manage to complete them!
- Time specific
And here’s how they look now:
Leave a buffer time for unexpected situations
Sometimes you feel super-motivated. You want to move mountains.
But then, something comes up and messes up with your plans. Maybe a friend calls for help or your cat disappeared. Who knows?
The point is you didn’t finish what you planned.
Here’s how to avoid this: don’t fill every single hour of your calendar.
Make sure you do the most important tasks. Those that help you achieve what you want to achieve.
You see how I left a half an hour of buffer time for each task?
Do the most important things first and don’t check email first in the morning.
What’s the trick here?
We instinctively avoid doing the hard work. That’s why you sometimes might find yourself crossing off the 6th or 7th task on your list, but you don’t manage to the one that really matters.
Do the most important thing once you get up. That’s when we have the highest willpower.
Second, don’t open your email first thing in the morning.
Because emails mean more things to be taken care of. And even if you close your email, your mind will try to solve those problems and will keep you from getting work done.
4. Influence, by Robert Cialdini
If you want to learn what are the most important “influence” buttons in our brain, read this book.
Why? Because you’ll learn some simple rules that are so powerful that even if you are aware of them, you’ll still be affected by them.
Here is how I used some of these.
Liking – we tend to accept requests from people we like.
This doesn’t seem so helpful at first.
How do you make people like you, right?
There’s lots of ways.
Here’s how the email I sent to Lidiya to ask if I can write on this website started:
(Thank you, Lidiya for the opportunity!)
You see, sometimes all you need is say exactly what you think. No fake excuses.
Commitment & consistency
Once we commit to something we tend to behave in ways that are consistent with that commitment.
“Would you like fries with that?” is a perfect example of commitment that sold millions more fries each year.
Why does this work?
Dr. Cialdini says that “once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
How could you use this?
On my website – Strodin.com, instead of asking people to inquire about my services, I ask them to request a free consultation.
Why this works better?
Because once they take this “no strings attached” decision,, they’ll feel more inclined to stick with their original decision (which is to work with me).
Social proof – We rely on what others say more than we think we do.
I think there’s nothing more powerful than social proof.
Because long ago, our ancestors understood that, in order to maximize their chances for survival, it was in their best interests to form groups of like-minded individuals.
So they lived in groups, hunted in groups, protected each other in groups. Everyone had a vital role that contributed to the success of the entire tribe.
When the group ate, you ate. When it slept, you slept. When it packed up and moved, you moved. If it died…well, you get the picture.
We have a powerful psychological need to belong. Our brains are hard-wired to follow others, especially when we don’t have enough information to make a decision by ourselves.
And the best part…
…you can use this just about in any area of your life
To get clients
When I quit my job, I entered into a totally new domain – marketing. So basically my portfolio was non-existent.
What did I do? I wrote some articles, for free, on some other websites.
Then, when I pitched clients to get work (to write articles for them), I referenced those free guest posts as a social proof.
To influence friends
Let’s say you want to convince your friends to go to a bar you like.
But saying “let’s go there, because I like it there” might sound selfish. And it’s not a good argument, right?
What you could do instead is mention how other people or other friends always go there and have a great time. Or how popular that bar is becoming.
To be more popular
Want to have more friends, be appreciated more often by more people? Copy this trick from influencers.
If you look on an influencer’s page (especially those who aren’t yet quite so popular), they always have pictures with other people.
Because in this way they communicate to your subconscious that they are popular. If they are always surrounded by other people, it must be because they’re cool, right?
5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Imagine having a set of guiding principles for any situation in life – from going bankrupt, to getting fired or even death of the loved ones.
This is what this book is about.
Here are some key lessons and how this book changed my life:
Memento Mori – we’re all going to die.
Don’t think of it as a morbid practice. This is not meant to get you depressed.
Used properly memento mori is a tool to create priority and meaning, without having to nearly die to tap into this.
A simple reminder can bring us closer to living the life we want.
I used this to:
1) Become a doer, instead of being just a dreamer
We all want to live a rich and fulfilling life. The problem is, most people think that one day it will “just happen”.
But the problem is, you don’t have 500 years to have the luxury to “just wait”.
And unless you’re damn lucky, if you don’t work on those goals every single day, you won’t achieve much and you’ll end up old and full of regrets.
Memento Mori helps you not forget that.
2) Enjoy important moments in life
We live in the century of speed and we sometimes forget the things that matter. Like laughing with a friend. Or appreciating the loved ones, your spouse, your kid, your friends.
You can’t put a price tag on these things.
You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.
So, enjoy the little moments. Take some time to relax. To listen to a friend. Give a hug to your wife, to your kid.
3) Start with the end in mind
Don’t get this wrong.
Having an end in mind is no guarantee that you’ll reach it.
But, how can you be happy, if you don’t know what happiness means to you? How can you achieve success, if you have no clue what success means to you?
It’s like trying to reach a destination you don’t know.
What can you do about it?
Take some time to meditate on how:
- Your perfect day would look like
- Your perfect life would look like
- Your perfect job/business would look like
- You perfect family life would look like
Be as specific as you can.
But you might say: “Ok, but maybe in 10 years my goals might change”.
And you are right. We are always adapting, evolving and probably reinventing ourselves.
And when this happens, you can always change course.
But at least you know where you’re going. And when you’ll encounter some obstacles in life, you’ll know how to get back on track.
Maybe the most important advice if you want to be successful, in any area of your life
Here’s the simplest and most efficient way to become the person you want to become.
Find a person (or several people) who already live the life you want, who already know what you want to know.
And then…. ask them to teach you.
Oh, you cannot ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to tell you how they made their money?
Maybe you are right.
But you can read their books, right? Or you can read the books they’ve read, right? Or you can read their biographies. Or listen to some speeches they gave.
Never stop learning and I guarantee you’ll see a huge progress in your life.
About the author
Patrik Bindea is a growth hacking dental marketer and the owner of strodin.com, where he helps dentists get more patients. He obsessively tests everything until he finds those details that turn strategies, concepts and words into sales.