Wednesday, February 10, 2010

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire

Another intrusion of a book that Dubya might actually read. This one's so simple he could probably even understand most of it. It reminded me quite a bit of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book to the point that I considered reviewing it as a comment on that review...

A brief and critical review of 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire (Without Being Born One) (Revised Edition) by Brian Koslow

Consider it a kind of predictive review? Based on reading the book, I have a number of predictions about the author, though I'm unlikely to take the time to test them.

First, an observation about the title: The title is a lie. Doesn't bode very well for the rest of the book, eh? Actually, the book is a list of trivial tips and bits of advice. Many of the entries say that they will lead to more money, but there is nothing in the book that could, even with major stretching, be interpreted as an actual "way" to make a million dollars, and there are certainly not "365 Ways" here. Wear expensive shoes because some people will notice? Give us a break.

There are three main themes of the advice in the book. One theme can be summarized as "be a good person" for various reasons that will contribute to your ability to earn more money. The second theme is "watch for for opportunities and be prepared to seize them". The third theme is to be aware of spending money, which is usually in the form of tips about how to save small amounts of it. However this third theme is also confused by advice about when to spend more money, usually for the sake of making a favorable impression on someone. The author would probably argue for a fourth theme about managing people effectively, but his advice on that topic is so confusing and contradictory that I can't figure out which part to focus on as a possible theme.

The substance of the book could be effectively condensed into 5 or 10 pages--but that wouldn't have made much money for the author or his publisher, the Wall Street Journal (which was also plugged within the book (as an unnamed business newspaper)). Actually the best summary of the book is probably the author's own comment on page 148, in entry #304, where he reports that the book is essentially a collection of verbal notes he recorded as he was walking to work one summer. He loves his electronic gadgets, evidently--except for his advice against watching television, which is probably the best tip in the book.

In summary, I'm sure glad I only borrowed it for a few days from the library. I was a skeptic before I read it, but my current conclusion is that the author is basically a wheeler dealer and legal con man. He's smart enough to avoid overtly criminal enterprises, but mostly just a sharp dealer who wouldn't want to talk about how he made his first million (and he never mentions any related details in the book), but who decided the easy and safe path to making more millions was by teaching other people how to fake sincerity.

A parting editorial comment: I'm pretty sure that he didn't even read his own book all that closely because I'm almost sure that entry #270 on page 130 was almost identical to an earlier entry. I actually went to Google Books to check, but I wasn't at all surprised to discover that no preview was available. Even the snippets would have deflated the purchase value of this book to zero.