In his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, multimillionaire T. Harv Eker writes about his pre-wealth days, "My mind was my biggest obstacle to success" (p. 6). Most people pursuing wealth think their problem is how much money they have. It never is. In fact, this kind of thinking is exactly why so many people are still broke.
The greatest lessons I (Seth) learned about creating wealth were when I had nothing but a dime to work with. I'm convinced if someone handed me $20,000 to start with I wouldn't have five streams of passive income today. What was the difference? Having almost no money forced me to not depend on my money but on my brain. I was forced to think different and change my thought patterns about money. It took me months to realize that the only person keeping me from building wealth was myself.
Rewire your mental blueprint for how you look at money.
In part 1 of his book, Eker shows you how to identify your "money blueprint," your perspective on money created by your past and controlled by thoughts and feelings. He explains how to rewire your internal programming so you can start building wealth.
Eker writes, "It is essential you recognize how your old ways of thinking and acting have gotten you exactly where you are right now" (p. 7). Using this concept as a launching pad, Eker writes a 202 page wisdom-packed challenge not to how to invest or manage finances (for the most part) but how to change your thinking about money and building wealth. Eker addresses the mind and attitude behind money, an essential starting point if you are serious about building real wealth. He points out that our rearing as children created a blueprint etched deep into our subconscious which has a huge influence on how we manage money and keeps most people poor or close to it.
"[Y]our character, your thinking, and your beliefs are a critical part of what determines the level of your success" (p. 10). Eker follows up with a heavy but gripping statement: "Your income can grow only to the extent you do!" (p. 10).
At the end of this blog post, I provide a personality guide you can use to test your personality strengths and weaknesses and learn how to leverage these to make you a stronger leader and business owner.
The rest of his book trails this idea, show that your growth is proportionate to your money's growth. "If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible" (p. 12).
Most people operate consciously in the physical world only, ignoring the immaterial parts of thought patterns, instinctual blueprints and principles that could help them build wealth. "In my experience, what you cannot see in this world is far more powerful than anything you can see" (p. 13). Eker states that we live in four realms all at the same time: the physical world, the mental world, the emotional world, and the spiritual world. "What most people never realize is that the physical realm is merely a 'printout of the other three'" (p. 14).
He goes on to explain, "Money is a result, wealth is a result, health is a result, illness is a result, your weight is a result. We live in a world of cause and effect" (p. 14). Just as the program on your computer determines what prints out on the sheet of paper, so the immaterial realm determines the physical realm.
"A lack of money is never, ever a problem. A lack of money is merely a symptom of what is going on underneath" (p. 15).
So how do you use this perspective to grow rich? Change your thinking. Pretend you know nothing about money management and wealth and begin learning it anew. This begins with self awareness:
Past programming (how you were raised and life experiences) leads to thoughts.
- Thoughts lead to feelings.
- Feelings lead to actions.
- Actions lead to results.
Looking at our own thoughts from a third person perspective empowers us to capture the lies and reinforce the truths that enter our mind. It's the process of reconditioning our thinking about how we view wealth and success.
Recognize your conditioning for how your think about money and success and you have taken a giant leap toward reaching your financial goals.
Identify Your programming. Then reprogram it.
How do we do that? By looking at three sources of mental programming that shaped our "money view" over the years:
- Verbal programming. What did you hear when you were young?
- Modeling: What did you see when you were young?
- Specific incidents: What did you experience when you were young? (p. 20).
Phrases like money is the root of all evil (a misquote of the Bible), you can't be rich and spiritual, and rich people are greedy are classic examples of verbal programming.
These programmed thoughts are powerful because, "When the subconscious mind must choose between deeply rooted emotions and logic, emotions will almost always win" (p. 22).
Eker tells the story of the woman who prepares a ham for dinner by cutting off both ends. Her bewildered husband asks why she cuts off the ends. She replies, "That's how my mom cooked it." Well, it just so happened that her mom was coming for dinner that night. So they asked her why she cut off the ends of the ham. Mom replies, "That's how my mom coked it." So they decide to call Grandma on the phone and ask why she cut off the ends of the ham. Her answer? "Because my pan was too small!"
Why does capturing our emotional and mental programing for wealth matter so much? Because, "If our motivation for acquiring money or success comes from a non-supportive root such as fear, anger, or the need to 'prove' yourself, your money will never bring you happiness" (31). Why? Because money is not the root of the problem. The negative emotion is.
"By unlinking your money motivation from anger, fear, and the need to prove yourself, you can install new links for earning your money through purpose, contribution, and joy. That way you'll never have to get rid of your money to be happy" (p. 33).
The key is finding out how statements about money that you grew up with, how money was modeled before you as a child, and emotional incidents you experienced around money impacted how you manage money and view wealth today. This matters because "no thought lives in your head rent-free" (p. 46).
This is the first step in mastering the game of inner wealth. "Your income can grow only to the extent that you do" (p. 45).
In part 2, Eker shows seventeen ways rich people think and act differently from poor and middle-class people. Eker does not disgrace or belittle the poor, but observes that a huge amount of financial brokenness can be amended by changing how one thinks about money.
Wealth File #1: Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”
Eker writes, "You have to believe that you are the one who creates your success, that you are the one who creates your mediocrity, and that you are the one creating your struggle around money and success. Consciously or unconsciously, it's still you" (p. 54). Eker urges his readers to stop complaining and justifying their poverty and start taking ownership for their success. "When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing 'crap magnet'" (p. 58).
Eker challenges his readers to go seven days without complaining about a single thing—not just outwardly but even in their head (p. 59). "I'm a big believer in the universal law that states, 'What you focus on expands.' When you are complaining, what are you focusing on, what's right with your life or what's wrong with it?...[S]ince what you focus on expands, you'll keep getting more of what's wrong" (p. 58).
Wealth File #2: Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
Eker tells his readers that poor people play the money game on defense rather than offense. Any sports team that plays defense ends up losing. Eker explains, "[Most people's] concern is survival and security instead of creating wealth and abundance" (p. 62). He continues a few paragraphs later, "If your goal is to be comfortable, chances are you'll never get rich. But if your goal is to be rich, chances are you'll end up mighty comfortable" (p. 64).
So why not shoot for the stars? If you at least hit the moon, is that so bad?
Wealth File #3: Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
Eker explains three levels of wanting to be rich:
I want to be rich.
I choose to be rich.
I commit to being rich.
But wanting and choosing will not get you what you want. You have to commit. "This is the warrior's way. No excuses, no ifs, no buts, no maybe's—and failure is not an option" (p. 69). "If you are not fully, totally, and truly committed to creating wealth, chances are you won't" (p. 70).
Wealth File #4: Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
Eker explains the Law of Income: "You will be paid in direct proportion to the value you deliver according to the marketplace" (73). It does not matter how valuable your work is to you, if no one else find it valuable, no one will pay you money for it. Eker explains that there are factors that determine your value in the marketplace: supply, demand, quality, and quantity. The last, quantity, presents the biggest challenge for most people. "How many people do you actually serve or affect?" (p. 73). The more you serve, the greater wealth you will build.
Wealth File #5: Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
If you really want to create wealth, you need to become friends with risk. As a general rule, "the higher the reward, the higher the risk. Because they constantly see opportunity, rich people are willing to take a risk" (p. 79). "Although poor people claim to be preparing for an opportunity, what they're usually doing is stalling. They're scared to death, hemming and hawing for weeks, months, and even years on end, and by then the opportunity usually disappears" (p. 79).
I love Eker's point blank approach when he writes, "To succeed financially, you have to do something, buy something, or start something" (p. 80). "If you want to get rich, focus on making, keeping, and investing your money. If you want to be poor, focus on spending your money...What you focus on expands (p. 81).
In the close of this chapter Eker gives perhaps one of the most powerful pieces of advice in the entire book: "Begin now from wherever you are with whatever you've got" (p. 85).
Wealth File #6: Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
"If you view rich people as bad in any way, shape, or form, and you want to be a good person, then you can never be rich. It's impossible. How can you be something you despise?" (p. 86). Eker gets vulnerable on this point and tells how he watched Oprah interviewing actress, Halle Berry, congratulating her on one of the largest film contracts in history for a female actor—$20 million. "Halle then says that she doesn't care about the money, and that she fought for this humongous contract to blaze a trail for other women to follow" (p. 87-88). Eker then writes, "I heard myself say skeptically, "Yeah, right! Do you think I and everyone else watching this show is an idiot? You should take a hunk of that dough and give your public relations agent a raise" (p. 88).
Eker suddenly stopped and realized he was doing the very thing he teaches others not to do: resenting the rich. He quickly turned it around and began screaming at the top of his lungs, "Way to go, girl! You rock!" You let 'em off too cheap, you should've got thirty millions dollars!"
Eker points out that reach people are often the most trusted people in the world because for someone to get rich, people have to trust them. "Think about it, would you do business with a person you didn't trust at least to some extent? No way! Meaning that to get rich, there's a good chance many, many, many people must trust you, and there's a good chance that for that many people to trust you, you have to be quite trustworthy" (p. 90).
"The fact is, resenting the rich is one of the surest ways to stay broke" (93).
Wealth File #7: Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
"Poor people are uncomfortable with highly successful people. They're either afraid they'll be rejected or feel as if they don't belong. To protect itself, the ego then goes into judgment and criticism" (p. 100).
Wealth File #8: Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
Eker explains how "Rich people are almost always excellent promoters. They can and are willing to promote their products, their services, and their ideas with passion and enthusiasm. What's more, they're skilled at packaging their value in a way that's extremely attractive. If you think there's something wrong with that, then let's ban makeup for women, and while we're at it, we might as well get rid of suits for men. All that is nothing more than 'packaging'" (p. 103).
Ekder mentions Robert Kiyosaki, best-selling author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, how pointed out that every business, including writing books, depends on selling. This is why he is actually a best-selling author, not a best-writing author" (p. 104).
Wealth File #9: Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
"The secret to success is not to try to avoid or get rid of or shrink from your problems; the secret is to grow yourself so that you are bigger than any problem" (107).
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest, if you are a person with a level 2 of strength of character and attitude, a level 5 problem is going to look monstrous. But if you grow yourself to a level 8 the level 5 problem is not difficult at all. Grow yourself to a level 10 and the level 5 problem is like brushing your teeth (p. 107).
"Let me make this short and sweet. The size of the problem is never the issue—what matters is the size of you!" (p. 107).
Eker warns his readers that what he is about to write may be painful but, "If you have a big problem in your life, all that means is that you are being a small person! Don't be fooled by appearances. Your outer world is merely a reflection of your inner world. If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you!" (p. 108).
Eker explains that if you want to grow in wealth you have to grow yourself. Wealth does not just happen to someone because they work hard for it. They have to grow in their character, discipline, and ability to focus on their goals instead of on their problems. "Think of yourself as your container for wealth. If your container is small and your money is big, what's going to happen? You will lose it. Your container will overflow and the excess money will spill out all over the place. You simply cannot have more money than the container. Therefore you must grow to be a big container so you cannot only hold more wealth but also attract more wealth" (p. 109).
Wealth File #10: Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
"If I had to nail down the number one reason most people do not reach their full financial potential, it would be this: most people are poor 'receivers" (p. 111). Eker explains that a lot of people are terrible at receiving money because they feel unworthy. They have guilt in their life so they feel like they don't deserve it and end up living out their beliefs. "You will live into your story. It's that simple" (p. 113). "If a hundred-foot oak tree had the mind of a human, it would only grow to be ten feet tall!" (p. 114). What you believe about yourself holds monumental power over your ability to build wealth. The only person ultimately deciding if you feel worth enough is you. No matter what people say or don't say about you, you still choose to believe what you believe and if you believe you are unworthy then you will never be able to receive well and ultimately build wealth.
Eker takes it to another level and writes, "If you are not willing to receive, then you are 'ripping off' those who want to give to you" (p. 116).
Eker shares an epiphany he had when camping in the forest. After a night of rain he noticed how "nature is totally abundant but not discriminating." When rain falls, it has to go somewhere. If one part is dry, another part will be doubly wet...Likewise "if somebody isn't willing to receive his or her share, it must go to whoever will. The rain doesn't care who gets it and neither does money" (p. 117).
"Rich people work hard and believe it's perfectly appropriate to be well rewarded for their efforts and the value they provide for others" (p. 117).
Many people believe they can reach a higher level of spirituality by being poor, not unlike making an oath of poverty. Eker encountered someone like this and asked him, "What good do you do for poor people by being one of them? Whom do you help by being broke?" (p. 118).
Others object to being rich because they fear turning into a greedy jerk. Eker writes, "The only people who say that are poor people. It's just another justification for their failure...Second...money will only make you more of what you already are. If you're mean, money will afford you the opportunity to be meaner. If you're kind, money will afford you the opportunity to be kinder" (p. 119).
Wealth File #11: Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
"Wealth Rule #1: Never have a ceiling on your income. If you choose to get paid for your time, you are pretty much killing your chances for wealth" (p. 125). "Whatever your vehicle, make certain you create a situation that allows you to get paid based on your results" (p. 127). Eker strongly recommends you having your own business since the vast majority of millionaires became rich by owing their own business. Second, having your own business gives you huge tax advantages over being an employee of a company (p. 127).
Wealth File #12: Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”
From now on, when confronted with a neither/or alternative, the quintessential question to ask yourself is, "How can I have both?" This question will change your life. Eker explains that the idea that you have to give up happiness, healthy relationships or free time to do what you love in order to be rich is "poor programming." There is no reason you cannot have both. "Rich people believe, 'You can have your cake and eat it too.' Middle-class people believe, 'Cake is too rich, so I'll only have a little piece.' Poor people don't believe they deserve cake so they order a doughnut, focus on the hole and wonder why they have 'nothing" (p. 134).
Eker cuts to the punch with, "If you're so worried about other people and making sure they get their share (as if there is a share), do what it takes to get rich so you can spread more money around" (p. 136).
"My friends being kind, generous, and loving has nothing to do with what is or isn't in your wallet. Those attributes come from what is in your heart...To think money makes you good or bad, one way or another, is either/or thinking and just plain 'programmed garbage' that is not supportive to your happiness and success" (p. 136).
Wealth File #13: Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
Resonating with principles from Rich Dad Poor Dad, Eker explains that the truth measure of wealth is net worth, not working income (p. 138). "Net worth is the ultimate measure of wealth because, if necessary, what you own can eventually be liquidated into cash" (p. 138).
Eker lays out the the four worth factors:
- Income. This includes working income (money earned from a day-to-day job) and passive income (money coming in without you actively working).
- Savings. If you don't save some of your money you will never build wealth.
- Investments. "Rich people take the time and energy to learn about investing and investments. They pride themselves on being excellent investors or at least hiring excellent investors to invest for them" (p. 140).
- Simplifications. Consciously creating a lifestyle where you need less to live on.
Eker gives the example of Susan who purchased a home for $300,000 at age 23, sold it for $600,000 seven years later, invested the $300,000 with a 10% secure interest rate and lived off of that investment while moving in with her sister.
Wealth File #14: Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money.
Lamenting the education system's failure to educate young people in money management, Eker writes sarcastically, "I don't know about you, but where I went to school, Money Management 101 wasn't offered. Instead we learned about the War of 1812, which of course is something I use every single day" (p. 145).
To build wealth we have to educate ourselves daily, constantly learning more so that we know where to invest our money and where opportunities lie. "Until you show you can handle what you've got, you won't get any more" (p. 147). "We are creatures of habit, and therefore the habit of managing your money is more important than the amount" (p. 147). "It doesn't matter if you have a fortune right now or virtually nothing. What does matter is that you immediately begin to manage what you've got, and you'll be in shock at how soon you get more" (p. 149).
Eker recommends six different accounts for managing finances well:
- 10 percent investment account (for Long Term investments)
- 10 percent Play account (for fun money that you have to blow every month)
- 10 percent into your Long-Term Savings for Spending Account (life savings and retirement)
- 10 percent into your Education Account (to keep educating yourself to get better at making money)
- 50 percent into your Necessities Account (money you live off of)
- 10 percent into your Give Account (money you give to others)
Eker writes that most people think you need a lot of money to get rich. This is cow manure. All you need is a little money managed well and you can build a huge amount of wealth. "That is why so many high-income professionals—doctors, lawyers, athletes, and even accountants—are basically broke, because it's not just about what comes in, it's about what you do with what comes in" (p. 152).
"Either you control your money, or it will control you" (p. 153).
Wealth File #15: Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
"You do have to work hard for your money. For rich people, however, this is a temporary situation. For poor people, it's permanent. Rich people understand that 'you' have to work hard until your 'money' works hard enough to take your place. They understand that the more your money works, the less you will have to work" p. 156).
"People who achieve financial freedom have learned how to substitute their investment of work energy with other forms of energy" (p. 156). "You become financially free when your passive income exceeds your expenses" (p. 157).
Eker identifies two primary sources of passive income. The first is "money working for you such as investment earnings from financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, T-bills, money markets, mutual funds, as well as owning mortgages or other assets that appreciate in value and can be liquidated for cash. The second major source of passive income is "business working for you" where you own a business that makes money but you do not have to personally be there to keep it running. Examples include real estate investment, royalties from books, music or software; licensing your ideas; becoming a franchisor, owning storage units, owning vending or other types of coin-operated machines; and network marketing (p. 157).
"I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but for the most part, buying things for immediate gratification is nothing more than a futile attempt to make up for our dissatisfaction in life. More often than not, 'spending' money you don't have comes from 'expending' emotions you do have. This syndrome is commonly known as retail therapy. Overspending and the need for immediate gratification have little to do with the actual item you're buying, and everything to do with lack of fulfillment in your life" (p 160).
Eker notes, "It's almost funny: rich people have a lot of money and spend a little, while poor people have a little money and spend a lot" (p. 163). Following this statement Eker makes some very powerful statements on the polar mindsets of the rich versus the poor:
Poor people work to earn money to live today; rich people work to earn money to pay for their investments, which will pay for their future. Rich people buy assets, things that will likely go up in value. Poor people buy expenses, things that will definitely go down in value. Rich people collect land. Poor people collect bills (p. 163).
While poor people see a dollar as a dollar to trade for something they want right now, rich people see every dollar as a 'seed' that can be planted to earn a hundred more dollars, which can then be replanted to earn a thousand more dollars (p. 164).
It comes down to this: poor people work hard and spend all their money, which results in their having to work hard forever. Rich people work hard, save, and then invest their money so they never have to work hard again (p. 165).
Wealth File #16: Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
Eker quotes from Susan Jeffers book that says it perfectly, "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway." Eker writes, "The biggest mistake most people make is waiting for the feeling of fear to subside or disappear before they are willing to act. These people usually wait forever" (p. 167).
It's imperative to realize that it is not necessary to try to get ride of fear in order to succeed. Rich and successful people have fear, rich and successful people have doubts, rich and successful people have worries. They just don't let these feelings stop them (p. 168).
If you are willing to do only what's easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what's hard, life will be easy (p. 169).
If you want to be rich and successful, you'd better get comfortable with being uncomfortable (p 171).
The only time you are actually growing is when you are uncomfortable (p. 171).
The more comfortable you have to be, the fewer risks you will be willing to take, the fewer opportunities you will take advantage of, the fewer people you will meet, and the fewer new strategies you will try (p. 171).
Eker takes a moment to elaborate on the power of taking ownership for your mind and being the boss of one's own mind: "One of the most important things you can ever understand is that you are not your mind. You are much bigger and greater than your mind alone...Training and managing your own mind is the most important skill you could ever own, in terms of both happiness and success" (p. 174).
Eker writes that every time your mind conjures up a thought that is not supportive to your success, immediately replace it with an empowering thought (p. 175). "Make a decision that from now on, your thoughts do not run you, you run your thoughts. From now on, your mind is not the captain of the ship, you are the captain of the ship, and your minds works for you" (p. 175). Robert Allen said, "No thought lives in your head rent-free" (p. 175). Eker explains, "What that means is that you will pay for negative thoughts. You will pay in money, in energy, in time, in health, and in your level of happiness" (p. 175).
Wealth File #17: Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
Eker writes that the three most dangerous worlds in the English language are, "I know that" (p. 179). How do you know if you really know something? If you live it. If you are broke and not building wealth, chances are you don't know yet what you need to know. Many waste their life trying to prove they are right, instead of being teachable and going out and learning what they need to know. "You can be right or you can be rich, but you can't be both" (p. 179). "Every master was once a disaster" (p. 182).
"The fastest way to get rich and stay rich is to work on developing you. The idea is to grow yourself in to a 'successful' person" (p. 183).
"Rich people take advice from people who are richer than they are. Poor people take advice from their friends, who are just as broke as they are" (p. 185).
T. Harv Eker's book is the most powerful book I have read on how to prepare one's mind and thoughts on the inside for success on the outside. Eker's unique approach by going directly after the core issues that prevent millions from building wealth makes this book a true masterpiece.