Knowledge and inspiration are priceless
As a content creator, one of the best ways to come up with new ideas is to read a lot. I’ve always loved reading non-fiction, but once I realized that the ideas I get from the books can make me money through my blog, my Youtube channel, and my business, I started reading even more.
In this article, I’ll go over the 5 books that inspired me to write my best-performing content. When I factor in the traffic this content drove to my website, the sales it generated on my store, and the royalties I get for my writing, it’s fair to say the knowledge from these 5 books alone has made me thousands of dollars. For each book, I’ll explain what part exactly inspired me, and how I came up with the content structure. The last book is more focused on developing an overall vision for success rather than writing one specific piece.
I had already read Rick Ross’ memoir Hurricanes, which tells his story from his Miami upbringing during the peak of the crack epidemic, to his rise to fame and establishment as one of the pillars of the hip-hop industry. It was a much better read than I had anticipated (I guess I was being a little judgemental there) so when I saw that he had followed up with a book on his entrepreneurship lessons, I decided to give it a go.
The book focuses not only on how Rick Ross made his millions as a rapper and entrepreneur, but also explains what strategies he put in place to survive the pandemic as someone who makes most of his money in the entertainment industry (which was completely shut down back then).
The book is full of good insights, and here is the one that inspired me to start laying out a rough structure for an article:
“I can see how from the outside looking in, it might appear that I’ve been irresponsible with my earnings. I do have a 235-acre estate. I do have a 350,000-gallon swimming pool. I do have a lot of cars. I do buy jewelry. I do own three horses. […] I do enjoy luxuries, but my assets far outweigh my liabilities. I’ve never bought something that I couldn’t afford to buy twice. I don’t live beyond my means. I might be a big spender, but I’ve always been a much bigger saver.”
I had already heard a slightly different version of the sentence “I’ve never bought something that I couldn’t afford to buy twice”, but it somehow made more impact on me coming from a guy who owns a 109-room mansion sitting on 235 acres, with a 350,000-gallon swimming pool (the largest in the United States) and a 100+ car collection.
After reading this book, I researched and laid out 5 money tips in total, and for each, I looked at it through the solo entrepreneur lens (individual) and the business lens (company). That’s an angle I often take with my content which I have found to work great. Plus, it enables me to include some of my personal experience and insights as a business owner too.
My article If You Can’t Buy It Twice, Don’t Buy It ended up being one of my best-performing articles in my 3 years of writing.
I decided to read this book because I had heard of Ray Dalio as one of the greatest investors of all time, and I started to get interested in investing some of my savings. Dalio is the 36th richest man in the world with a net worth of $22 billion. From 1975 to 2011, he built the most successful hedge fund in the world, never losing more than 4% during any calendar year from 1991 to 2020 (and only doing so during 3 calendar years).
I had also come across Ray Dalio’s videos on Youtube, which are amazing at explaining how the world economy works in simple terms and making knowledge more accessible.
The thing that stuck out in this book was a 5-step system Dalio uses to get anything he wants in life. Not just to manage a successful hedge fund and make billions on the stock market, but also to face and overcome personal challenges in his own life.
This 5-step system is so incredibly valuable, and the structure for my article was already laid out in the book itself, chapter by chapter:
“It seems to me that the personal evolutionary process […] takes place in five distinct steps. If you can do those five things well, you will almost certainly be successful. Here they are in a nutshell:
1. Have clear goals.
2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals.
3. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.
4. Design plans that will get you around them.
5. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.”
I didn’t change anything about the structure, and I made sure to add my own insights as a young entrepreneur. To date, this is my second-best-performing article ever. I also made a Youtube video based on the article I wrote, which is my best-performing video in my first 6 months on the platform.
I never actually finished this book because I found it to be a bit redundant (like I find to be a lot of books focused on self-improvement, money management, or entrepreneurship) but I did get some great insights from the 100-or-so pages I read of it.
The chapter that caught my attention the most was one focused on a simple but shocking theory:
“Your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.”
In this specific chapter, Morgan Housel relates a press conference John F. Kennedy gave while he was running for president. This was 25 years after the Great Depression, which marked millions of Americans. A reporter asked Kennedy what he remembered from it, and this is what he replied:
“I have no first-hand knowledge of the Depression. My family had one of the great fortunes of the world and it was worth more than ever then. We had bigger houses, more servants, we traveled more. About the only thing that I saw directly was when my father hired some extra gardeners just to give them a job so they could eat. I really did not learn about the Depression until I read about it at Harvard.”
I found this fascinating for 2 main reasons:
- Number one, the fact alone that Kennedy had the nerve to admit that he hadn’t even had any idea about the crisis until he got to Harvard was enough to write a whole article on the major disconnect between tremendously rich people and the average Joe.
- Number two, I read this book during the pandemic, at a time when “normal folks” were hurting and rich people were getting richer than ever, at an insane rate. A new billionaire was minted every 17 hours in 2021 (let that sink in). 86% of the existing billionaires got richer, and their combined wealth increased by $5 trillion. Those numbers were mind-boggling, and I thought the timing was relevant to write a piece on the different perceptions people have of money based on their upbringing.
That’s how I came to write the article The Way John F. Kennedy Saw Money is the Path to Tremendous Wealth. The topic of wealth disparity also reminded me of the amazing book Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I came up with 5 different chapters, based on those 2 books and my own insights:
- We’re all educated differently about money (Money Mindset)
- We all have a different money environments (Factfulness)
- Acknowledge luck but never rely on it (my own)
- We have such little historical data on money (Money Mindset)
- Financial illiteracy is an issue (my own)
As bluntly stated on the cover of this book, it’s about “20 Successful Uncorrelated Strategies & Techniques to Winning Profits”. I had already read some of James Altucher’s work online, and I liked the idea of a “strategy bible” that was backtested and full of charts and graphs. I’m a data nerd and I love looking for patterns, and I came across this book at the same time I read The Psychology of Money (mentioned above). I wanted to invest my money and was doing my research first.
One strategy in particular that caught my eye was The Bread and Butter Trade: Play Gaps, which also happens to be the first one mentioned in the book:
“Many day traders only play gaps. They wander into the day trading firm at 9:25 AM, coffee and New York Post in hand, settle down, look for the stocks that are gapping up or down, and then fade them. They go the opposite direction: shorting gap ups until they get back to flat with the prior day’s close, or going long gap downs. Four times out of five they make money and life is great […] But the fifth trade will wipe out all the profits and then some when the gap continues in the direction it started and all the gap-fillers get squeezed in one direction or other.”
Trade Like a Hedge Fund is rather dated: it was published in 2004, almost 20 years ago. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about Altucher’s insights, and I got interested in investing my money in the most classic way: in the S&P 500. I studied more basic investing strategies and decided to go with a simple dollar cost averaging approach, investing a fixed amount every month, and reinvesting the quarterly dividends too.
I also decided to write an article to document my journey of investing for the first time: I Never Invested in the Stock Market Until I Understood This. This article ended up being one of my best-performing ones to date, and I also made a Youtube video on the same topic. During my first 6 months on Youtube, it became my second-best-performing video on the platform.
This book is a little different than all the other ones mentioned above because it was literally a life-changing read. I read 168 Hours maybe 3 or 4 years ago before I started blogging, before I even set the personal goal of writing 3 articles per week for 1 year and seeing where it would take me.
I read this book at a point in my life when I felt like I didn’t have enough time to manage both a thriving 9–5 career and develop my own business “on the side”. I didn’t want to sit on my laurels, I wanted to create a backup for myself, but at the same time, I felt overwhelmed. I decided to start reading a bunch of books on the topic of time management to see if that would help, and this one book changed my approach to work forever.
The book is based on the simple premise that when you look at your schedule on a 168-hour timeline (1 week) rather than a 24-hour timeline (1 day), you’ll most likely realize you have a ton of free time.
- Even if you work 8 hours per day,
- commute for 2 hours,
- sleep for 8,
- and spend 5 hours on everything else: eating, family, exercising…
You still have 27 hours per week left to pursue your dream. That’s almost 4 hours per day.
This was a major epiphany. I realized I was not lacking time, I was lacking organization. So I started tracking my time in a custom spreadsheet I made:
After a week or two, I realized I didn’t even have to optimize my time use, I had plenty: I just had to stop wasting it. I decided to start waking up at 6 am everyday, and to use the quiet morning time to write one article draft per day, every day. I knew that if I didn’t do it first thing in the morning, the rest of the day would catch up on me and I would find excuses to skip the writing.
I made writing the number one priority of my day, and I used the evenings to edit my drafts and publish finished pieces, at a rate of 3 articles per week. I would skip office parties to go home and work more at night. I told myself I would commit to this approach for 1 year and see where it would take me. I posted no matter what, even while I was on vacation, even while I had a bit of time off. I would write content ahead of time and schedule it on auto-post, I would not allow myself to slip or skip a day.
My efforts paid off, and during this first year, one of my articles went viral. It’s still my best-performing article to date, and I built an audience and an online business from there. Since then:
- I’ve published over 300 articles online
- More than 1.5 million people have come across my work
- I’ve released video courses
- I’ve started selling my own digital products
- I recently started a Youtube channel to increase my brand awareness
Out of all the books mentioned in this article, 168 Hours is not only the one that made me the most money (by enabling me to start my business and prioritize content creation), it’s also the one that changed my approach to time and business management. I was even lucky enough to interview the author of the book, Laura Vanderkam, in my 50 People Who Do interview series.
Overall, reading has changed my life and my business and I hope it will help you too. Knowledge is the key to great achievements, inspiration, and amazing ideas.
And no matter how successful you become, always remember that money shouldn’t be the end goal, it’s only a side effect of success.
Thanks a lot for reading, and enjoy the journey.
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