Hi, Mark Ford here.
Welcome to the Wealth Builders Club India!
Of all the ventures I've started, I'm most excited about this. Why? Because it represents two of my most determined ambitions: to understand how wealth is created and to teach anyone who is ready to learn.
I've been interested in the idea of acquiring wealth ever since I was a child. I remember having dreams of being driven to my primary school playground in a stretch limousine. I'd get out wearing a white tuxedo and all of my schoolmates would surround me admiringly.
This was understandable. I was among the poorest kids in a middle-class school. I wore hand-me-down clothes donated to my family by local charities. We lived in a dilapidated house across the street from the municipal gravel pits.
I did have one significant advantage. My parents were highly intelligent and well- educated. They instilled in their children a belief in learning. I applied that belief, among other things, to learning about wealth.
My parents were also teachers, and the teacher bug infested me as it did three of my seven siblings.
Although I had the ambition to become wealthy very early, I did nothing serious about it until I was 32. Yes, I had started all sorts of little businesses before then, but it wasn't till I took a Dale Carnegie course that taught me goal-setting that I decided to make “becoming rich” my top priority.
In the next 10 years, I became a decamillionaire. In the following 10 years, I multiplied that wealth several times. And so, when I turned 50, knowing I had accumulated more wealth than I needed, I removed wealth building from my life's priorities and focused on teaching, instead.
I spent the next 10 years (from 50 to 60) writing about entrepreneurship. Under the pen name Michael Masterson, I wrote more than 2,000 essays and seven or eight books on entrepreneurship and wealth building. When I turned 60, I decided I would retire the Michael Masterson brand and write about something else.
My primary interest has been writing fiction, poetry, and books about ideas that interest me. But in 2011, I was persuaded to write about wealth building again on a new investment publication called The Palm Beach Letter. (I live in Palm Beach County in Florida.)
That's been a terrific experience for me. What I found was that all that I had learned about entrepreneurship was just a fraction of what could be learned about wealth building. So I began to apply what I had learned as an entrepreneur to the general subject of investing. And that's how I came to be writing for The Palm Beach Letter. Shortly after we started The Palm Beach Letter, we sent out a survey to our readers, asking them about their personal finances and goals. I was somewhat surprised to learn that a large percentage of readers were either already retired or planned to retire in 10 years or fewer. But what shocked and disturbed me was that many of these people were not, by any means, financially independent.
What they wanted-to live a comfortable life in “retirement”-was not going to happen for them. They had subscribed to The Palm Beach Letter because they recognized our mission was to help them achieve wealth. But they were still under the illusion that they could do that by buying the right stocks.
I knew enough about wealth building to be certain that this strategy would not be sufficient to achieve their goals. And that made me feel bad. I didn't want to contribute to their false belief by allowing them to believe that our stock selections, however good, would accomplish their goals.
So I decided to do something about it. I had umpteen meetings with the staff. I told them very candidly that we had a moral obligation to provide this group of our readers with much, much more.
So we began a series of very frank conversations about what it really takes to become financially independent in fewer than seven years. As it happens, I had plenty of ideas. Because that is exactly what I have been thinking and writing about for seven years.
So we agreed to combine all of our intellectual capital-my experience-based ideas and the experience-based knowledge of the team-and create an entirely new and unique service for investors who need to achieve financial independence in fewer than seven years.
Once we started moving, the ideas came on fast. In fact, we have so much to tell you, so much to give you, that you may be overwhelmed. But don't be. The schedule we have set for you is aggressive, but we have no choice. It is you who have told us you want to be wealthy in fewer than seven years. So we have to get to work immediately and work hard and fast.
We meant to come up with a clever name for the club, but in the process of developing all of the materials, we used the phrase “not yet wealthy.” I like that phrase because it conveys two important ideas:
It acknowledges that you are not yet wealthy. (The inability to admit this, as I'll explain in future essays to you, is a great problem in achieving wealth.)
The phrase also makes an implicit promise: If you follow the club's recommendations, you can and will achieve the wealth you need to lead a financially independent life.
In creating this club, we gave ourselves a considerable challenge. It is easy to give stock recommendations to investors. It is much more difficult to help them become wealthy. But that is the job we have taken on here. And I promise you-no matter how many other investment newsletters try to pick up on this promise in the future (and they will)-you will not be able to get the kind of experience-based advice you will get from us.
I know this because I know everybody in this industry. I know how rich they are (most aren't rich at all), and I know how they got the wealth they acquired (mostly by recommending exciting stocks that sometimes paid off and often didn't). So I can say this confidently: In joining the Wealth Builders Club for India, you have made a very good decision.
It is not going to be easy. And it is not going to be fast. But it can be done. And if you give us your trust and follow our recommendations, you will achieve financial independence within seven years.
To accomplish this, I am going to teach you everything I have learned about acquiring wealth. That includes all that I learned from developing dozens of multimillion-dollar businesses and also everything that I have learned about investing.
I will also give you access to every person and organization I know that are helpful in achieving this goal. In every channel of wealth building, there are people and businesses that have particular expertise. People and businesses I've come to admire. These will all be made available to you.
Every journey begins with a single step. And your first step, as a new club member, is to read everything I am sending you this week. I want to begin strongly, by challenging your assumptions about what wealth is and why you are not yet wealthy.
Some of what you will read will not please you. You may find it obvious or condescending or even insulting. I can only say that I am not being condescending or insulting. All of the most important things that I have learned have been, in retrospect, obvious. But what is obvious after you have gained wealth may seem condescending or insulting when you have not.
Your reading assignment for this week is mostly about change. It is based on the assumption that you are responsible for being unwealthy. Not the government, not the banks, not the brokers-you.
I am not for a minute suggesting that the powers that be haven't done everything they can to deprive you of your right to wealth. They certainly have. But while you have been victimized by their treacheries, others and I-individuals no smarter or better connected than you-have managed to attain wealth.
So that is something you have to go through in the next week. And as I said, it may not be easy. In fact, it may be the single biggest challenge you have ever faced in your search for wealth.
If you are already turned off by what I'm saying, I hope you will have the courage to face the truth about your situation and get beyond it. If you can't do that, ask for a refund right now. Everything that follows will have no value to you.
There are reasons why some unwealthy people acquire wealth while others don't. In fact, I believe that there are five or six primary reasons, all of which are key aspects of our club's program.
Soon, I am going to send you a personalized copy of my book, The Pledge, that was an Amazon best-seller last year. The WBC India team has agreed to buy it from the publisher and send it to you as a free bonus, because I told him I believed that this book was an important part of the process.
Read this book as soon as it arrives in your mailbox. It will name the reasons that most wealth seekers fail. And it will give you solutions. At the end of the book, it will ask you to make a commitment. The commitment (the pledge) is for you and nobody else. By signing it, you will have marked a turning point in your life. I will say no more about that now.
But even before you get the book, I'll be sending you a series of essays about why I believe you have to make a commitment to change. I'm sending these because I don't want you to lose any momentum. I hope they enlighten and inspire you.
In a few days, I'm going to send you another book, an e-book. It contains several important essays that you may have already read. These are the key essays that explain the core strategies for developing wealth. We've edited them into a book because I recently reread them, and I don't mind telling you that in rereading them, I was myself inspired.
But that's in a few days. Right now, you should read the essays about change and The Pledge when it arrives.
I know this is a lot to do. But please find the time to do it.
One of my favorite aphorisms is a Zen saying: “The master will appear when the student is ready.” Most people take this to mean that when you are ready to learn something important, some new wise person will appear in your life. This is not how it actually happens in real life.
What happens is that the teacher has usually been around, trying to teach you for some time. He keeps saying things that you discount or ignore. And then one day you wake up and realize he was right all along. “So that's what he meant!” you say.
The secrets I will be teaching you are the very same secrets that I gave to my personal clients and protégés-dozens of them. And they all, without a single exception, became wealthy.
And those are just my personal protégés. The truth is, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have profited from the advice you are going to get. But nobody before has ever gotten all of it in one consolidated program. The reason for that is simple. I have never put it all together until now.
So take some time today (not tomorrow-for tomorrow never comes) and begin to read what I've sent you. Read it with an open mind. When you read something you think you know, ask yourself, “Do I really know this? Have I really done it? Have I really incorporated it into my life?”
The answers, if you are honest, will be a few yeses and many nos. But that's fine. After all, if you had already applied all of the fundamental lessons of acquiring wealth, you would already be wealthy-and you are not!
I was poor once. In fact, I was once something like $100,000 in debt. I remember how that felt. It felt bad. I felt angry. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed.
But I didn't spend a moment blaming anyone else for my situation. I decided that I had only one choice-and that was to change what I was doing.
If you are ready to do that, then I can help you. And of course, it won't be just me. The entire Common Sense Living staff is excited about getting behind you on this. You are going to have all of the help you need.
Let me get back to the reason you joined this club. You have an ambition, a worthy ambition. You want to become financially independent in fewer than seven years. I am very confident that I can help you achieve this goal. But to do so, you must begin now.
As you get older, time speeds up. You know as well as I do that the next 52 weeks are going to go by very quickly. If you commit to change today, you will see a big difference one year from now. If you don't, those 52 weeks will fly by just as quickly. The only difference is that you will be just where you are right now, frustrated at your lack of wealth and wanting a solution.
This is the best solution you are ever going to be offered. I promise you that. Please take advantage of it.
Yours in our common ambition,
I was 13 when I first heard the word “underachiever.” Mrs. Growe, my ninth- standard English teacher, used it to describe a student who had, in her opinion, failed to work to his potential. The student? Yours truly.
“Mr. Ford,” she announced to the class, “is the classic example of an underachiever. He doesn't complete his work assignments. He shows up late for class and then wastes his time daydreaming. As a result, he produces C work. From a child with modest potential, I would be happy with mediocre results. In his case, I am very disappointed.”
I was not surprised at the assessment. It was accurate. I couldn't deny it. The female anatomy held my interest at that time. That and football. And playing around with my friends. And anything else but schoolwork.
I wasn't a good reader. And I couldn't sit still during class. Much later, I discovered that I was suffering from a combination of dyslexia and what is now called “attention deficit disorder.” But neither Mrs. Growe nor I knew about such things then. As far as she was concerned, I was a perennial slacker. I shared her opinion.
At least once per year, however, I promised myself that I would “turn over a new leaf.” I sensed, as Mrs. Growe did, that I was not as dumb as my grades suggested. And I felt, deep down in my bones, that eventually I'd make a success of myself.
But before I could be successful, I had to change something very fundamental about myself. And that change began at the end of my last year of school, when I woke up one day and realized that I was disgusted with myself.
I was tired of being the constant screw-up. I was sick of getting lousy marks and playing the fool in class. I wanted to become the person Mrs. Growe thought I should be. But it seemed to be too late. There was only a month to go before graduation, and it was obviously impossible to rectify four years of poor performance in so short a time.
Since my grades were mediocre, I had no chance of getting a college scholarship. And since my parents couldn't afford to help me with college fees, I had no choice but to attend a local community college. The community college was happy to take my $400 per year (about Rs. 20,000) and would be equally happy to give me the C’s I had been earning in high school. But I wasn't willing to live that life any longer.
I realized that, oddly enough, my lack of success was a benefit in disguise. I was about to put myself in an academic environment where mediocrity held sway-where I would be competing with other high-school screw-ups just like me.
What if I used the remaining time I had in high school to prepare for a new and better life in college? What if I directed my energy toward developing skills and habits that would help me succeed over the next four years?
And that's exactly what I did. The Saturday after I made my big decision to change, I drove to Nassau Community College in Hempstead, NewYork. I gathered together everything I could about the school and the syllabus I was going to be involved in. I brought it all back home with me and spent the rest of the weekend carefully reading every pamphlet and brochure.
I was doing something I had never done in school: getting ahead of my competition by planning my success. In the next few weeks, I became a minor expert in that little college. I knew every course it offered, every subject it offered, and every teacher who'd be teaching first year students that year.
Taking the initiative to plan my success gave me a very positive feeling. I could actually feel myself changing. I was becoming-even before I began-a serious and committed student.
I realized that I would be starting college as a brand-new person. None of my teachers would have heard about my high-school pranks, and none of my fellow students would be expecting me to be the class clown.
Starting college without the bad reputation I had established in high school was like a gift from the academic gods. I could walk into my new classes as an interested, enthusiastic student who was there to succeed.
And that's what happened. I showed up for classes in September on time, prepared with the required texts. I sat in the front row and raised my hand whenever the teacher asked questions. I did my homework assignments and spent my spare time studying. Between attending classes, studying, and running a house- painting business on the side, I worked 16 hours per day, seven days per week.
By the end of the first term, I had the reputation of being an A student. Throughout the rest of my college and graduate-school career, I never faltered.
I sometimes think about what would have happened to me if I hadn't finally become disgusted with myself. Or if I had failed to make those preparations that allowed me to turn over a new leaf.
It's highly likely that I would be grinding out a living somewhere, working a job I didn't like, struggling to pay my bills and making futile resolutions-knowing I'd live out my life as a habitual underachiever.
The difference for me was the simple realization that if I didn't change myself, my life wouldn't change-not then or ever. I had wasted my high-school years making promises I never truly meant to keep. But I was tired of doing that.
Thinking back, I can see that there were several factors that allowed me to change in a serious and committed way:
First, I had hit an emotional low point. I had finally reached a point at which I truly detested myself for not achieving what I felt was my potential. Second, I made a decision to change completely-to go from being a C student to the top of my class. Third, I recognized that I would have to change not just my work habits but the way I thought about myself. I would have to “become” the A student I wanted to be. And last, but not least, I took action immediately. I didn't wait till September to make the change. I started right away by preparing myself to succeed during my final months of high school. Have you made resolutions that you've failed to keep? Held dreams of success and happiness that you've failed to fulfill? Do you sometimes feel that, however much you've done, you are still, in part, an underachiever?
If so, there is good news. Your past behavior has no bearing on your future work habits. If you can change the way you work-even just a little-you can change the way you live.
Most people reading this will think, “I don't need another motivational speech. What I need is a change of luck.”
I'm here to say that luck had nothing to do with the change in my life. And it needn't have anything to do with whatever changes you would like to make in yours. Had I waited for luck to come to me, I might be waiting still. My life changed when I got fed up and started planning my success.
You, too, can change your life if you are: (a) dissatisfied with the lack of success you've had so far; (b) willing to make a big change-and not just a minor adjustment; © prepared to start working differently and thinking about yourself as a different kind of person; and (d) willing to start now by preparing yourself to succeed.
The best way I know of to do that right now is to keep reading…
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
Last night, I watched Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. As always with his films, I found it to be entertaining propaganda.
One of his primary arguments is that the rich have duped “the rest of us” into believing in capitalism by spreading the myth that anyone can become rich.
It's a wonderful irony. Here is a guy, the son of an autoworker from Michigan, who gets rich in America through hard work and initiative… and then makes a movie whose premise is that you can't do that.
The truth, as Moore sees it, is that the only power the poor have over their financial futures is to vote in social democracy-in which the “system” works to put more money in the pockets of the working and middle classes. (Though, as history has proven, that doesn't usually happen.)
The reason socialists have a problem with capitalism is that it cannot make everyone wealthy. And that's true. At Common Sense Living, we like the idea of making the world a richer place. But we know from experience that it can be done only one person at a time.
We have long given up on the idea of making every Tom, Dick, and Harry rich. We prefer to give individual people the tools they need to make their own money.
And this brings us to the question Moore raises in his film: Is it possible for an ordinary person-without special contacts or resources-to become wealthy in America today?
I've been studying that question for almost 20 years. And it's clear to me that ordinary, unconnected, wage- earning Americans become wealthy all the time.
And in the rapidly-shifting Indian economy, aided by globalization, this is now true for India as well.
Consider this: According to a study conducted by Merrill Lynch, there were 1,26,700 high net worth individuals (having wealth greater that USD 1 million) in India in 2010, which is more than double what it was the year before in 2009.
I've mentored at least a dozen people who started out at the bottom and are now multimillionaires. So Moore's premise, I'm saying, is bullshit.
You can get wealthy in India. Just as you can get wealthy in America. And there are three ways to do it:
You can get wealthy by scrimping and saving You can get wealthy by hoping and praying You can get wealthy by earning and investing. Getting Rich by Scrimping and Saving
The Millionaire Next Door, a bestselling book from 1996, made the shocking revelation that the typical American millionaire didn't acquire his wealth by starting a business or becoming a banker or through any of the other ways that are celebrated in books and movies.
It turns out that most millionaires got rich by scrimping and saving.
Anyone-and I mean anyone-can get rich this way. You can start out broke. You can be illiterate. You can be handicapped. In fact, you can be a dead-broke, illiterate, quadriplegic and you can still get rich this way.
Why? Because if you follow the scrimping and saving formula, it is a mathematical certainty. A 100% sure thing. Start with about a lac rupees in the bank. Then set aside a few thousand per month in a conservative savings program (say, tax- free bonds) earning, on average, 5% (the 100-year historical average). By the time you are ready to retire, you will be rich.
If you start when you are 20, you'll be a rich manb-no doubt about it-when you are 65 years old. If you continue to save for another 10 to 20 years, your wealth will probably double.
Getting rich this way doesn't require guts or brains. All you need is a commitment to work enough to make enough money to save every month and the discipline to keep putting it away.
I recommend this method to anyone who is young enough to take advantage of time. It is the primary wealth- acquisition program that I recommend to college graduates and young professionals in one of my books, Automatic Wealth for Grads and Anyone Else Just Starting Out.
Getting Rich by Hoping and Praying
Acquiring wealth by scrimping and saving is a sure thing, but it does take a long, long time.
And even if we have the time, most of us don't have the patience for it. All other things being equal, we'd like our wealth served to us on a silver platter by tomorrow morning, thank you very much.
Getting rich quickly-the ultimate financial aphrodisiac. Is it possible?
The answer: absolutely-if you are very, very lucky.
You hear about it all of the time-how someone, somewhere in the world, becomes enormously rich “overnight” by winning a jackpot in a casino, coming into a huge inheritance, or making amazing leveraged bets on stocks or bonds or real estate.
But the chance that you will get rich that way is very remote.
Your odds of winning a typical lottery are often tens of millions to one. Your odds of winning a million-dollar jackpot at a casino are more than 2 million to one.
These are long, long odds. And although I have no moral objection to gambling, I look at it as foolish and potentially addictive entertainment.
Speaking of the lottery, I should tell you that I happen to have made millions of dollars from it. But I didn't get that money by buying lottery tickets. I made it the old fashioned way-by investing time and money in a business I understood (direct-mail publishing).
Getting Rich by Earning and Investing
Here's the story: In the 1980s, I worked with a publishing company that put out a magazine and several newsletters about lotteries-local, state, and international lotteries. We featured articles about winners and essays by mathematicians who had systems for improving the odds of winning-that sort of thing.
Those publications were very successful. I think that at one time we may have had 100,000 subscribers paying us $39 per year. You can do the math.
This brings me to the third “way” to get rich: by earning and investing.
Earning and investing is the way the great industrialists made their fortunes 100 years ago in America. It is the way bankers made their money, too, before they abandoned earning and investing for getting rich quick by betting on derivatives.
It is this old-fashioned method of getting rich.
We believe in scrimping and saving for the young. We don't believe in hoping and praying. But we have great faith in getting rich by earning and investing. We've done it ourselves. We've taught others how to do it. We know it works-even today, when we're suffering from the terrible national hangover that came from the orgy of hoping and praying that got our country into so much debt.
There are two hitches to getting rich by earning and investing:
You can't do it overnight. It will take some number of years It's not a 100% sure thing, as it is with scrimping and saving.
How many years does it take to get rich by earning and investing? Short answer: one to seven years.
I've seen some people do it in as little as a year-and some take as long as seven years. The average has been somewhere in between.
When I sat down to write the book Seven Years to Seven Figures, I wanted to figure out why, out of the many people who attempt to get rich by earning and investing, only a percentage succeed.
So I interviewed eight people who had developed multimillion-dollar wealth in one to seven years. I asked them exactly what they did. I looked for similarities. Ultimately, I was searching for a common denominator.
As it turned out, I came up with three things that they had in common.
They had all:
Learned a financially valuable skill Started a business by finding an up-trending market niche to apply their financially valued skill to Spent considerably less than they made and saved the difference. The Four Obstacles to Earning and Investing Your Way to Wealth
I was excited. I thought that I had discovered a formula that would transform the readers of that book into multimillionaires. I imagined getting hundreds or even thousands of letters from people, thanking me for pointing the way.
I did get some nice letters-but they were in the dozens or hundreds, not in the thousands.
What about all of the other people who had read the book? I had given them the formula. Why hadn't they used it to make themselves rich?
There was only one way to find out. I had to ask them.
That, as it happened, was easier said than done. It's tough to ask a person who has read your advice, “Why didn't it work for you?”
But I did ask-although it was embarrassing for them and for me too. And what I discovered is that those people who hadn't gotten rich had never actually implemented all three parts of the formula. Some of them were stymied from the get-go. Some got started but then got distracted. And some made good progress but were ultimately frustrated.
But in speaking to them, a pattern emerged. The explanations that I got fell into one of the three following categories:
I've been preoccupied with other things-a full-time job that isn't getting me rich, a family that needs my time, fences to mend, taxes to pay, etc. But I'm going to start fresh this year.
I'm ready to start, but I haven't found my niche yet. I like the idea of natural health, but I'm also into photography and cooking. Which one do you think would be best?
I've tried various programs, but they haven't worked for me. I took a copywriting course, but I couldn't get any clients. Then I took a real estate course, and the market collapsed. Then I got into Internet publishing, but I think that the market now is too competitive.
I'll let you in on a little industry dirt. Many of the gurus who ply their trade selling wealth-building opportunities have no respect for the very people who are paying for their fancy cars and mansions. They call these people “wannabes.” “If people did what we told them,” they say, “we'd be out of business!”
I am not naive. I recognize that it is impossible to create a wealth-building program that will have a 100% success ratio. Like programs that teach foreign languages or guitar playing, even the best wealth-building program will not be able to ensure that all of the people who buy it will use it and succeed.
But I still think that my No. 1 job as a teacher of wealth-building skills is to create the highest possible level of success among my protégés.
That's why I spend so much time talking to people at conferences and corresponding with my readers -trying to figure out what is blocking them. If I can determine the major obstacles to success, maybe I can teach my readers how to overcome them. That would make their success so much easier.
You might see these as excuses. (He who is good at excuses is seldom good at anything else, the old maxim says.) But I don't think they were. Many of these people were truly busy with other things. Many were confused about the best businesses for them to get into. And many who put their wealth-building plans into action found themselves blocked in some way, became frustrated, and gave up.
And there is one more obstacle that I'm sure all of them faced, though no one mentioned to me. It is something that anyone who has attempted to become wealthy-or has succeeded at it-knows very well.
I'm talking about fear, of course. The fear of failure. The fear of looking foolish in front of your family, friends, or colleagues. The fear of discovering something about yourself that you don't want to know.
There must be 100 books and 10,000 articles written about the fear of failure-but from the sample I've read, 90% of them are dead wrong. Fear is, indeed, an obstacle. But the solution to fear cannot be found in mantras and visualizations and self-talk. The only sure way to defeat fear is through success.
The intelligent person should fear failure when he ventures into a new business. After all, some 80% of new businesses fail. But if he understands exactly how successful businesses are built, his fear will be less. And if he further understands some of the most fundamental secrets of wealth building, his fear will be small enough to overcome.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the four major obstacles to success.
For now, you just need to be aware of these four major obstacles and start preparing yourself to overcome them. In the weeks and months ahead, I'm going to start you down the path to earning and investing your way to wealth. And along the way, I will give you all of the tools necessary to overcome these common obstacles.
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
P.S.: As a member of the Wealth Builders Club India, you have acknowledged that you don't want to scrimp and save for 40 years to attain wealth. You want to do it sooner. You also know that you are not going to become financially independent by getting lucky investing in some super stock. The idea that I want you to accept is that there is only one sure way to do what you want to do, and that is a combination of earning more money and investing it wisely. That is exactly what we'll be talking about in future issues.
“What is wealth?”
As a writer about money and wealth, I've asked myself this question hundreds of times. My readers have also discussed this question in online forums.
It prompts a flood of interesting answers, from the mundane to the pragmatic, to the philosophically problematic. Answers like these:
$1 million in the bank Having everything you want Possessing the power to command results Being loved by your family and friends Having tangible assets sufficient to meet the physical needs of yourself and your loved ones Having a balanced life Attaining inner peace and spiritual enlightenment Having excellent health and immunity from disease.
This is just a small sampling of what people have to say, but it gives you an idea about how varied and sometimes vague our thinking about wealth can be. And although I recognize the sense in many of these definitions, I find it impossible to talk to people about wealth unless I can get them to agree on some basic terms. So let's do that now.
I suggest that we start with this definition: Wealth is a store of something valuable.
I like that definition because it is simple and because, no matter what it is that you value, it emphasizes something essential about wealth: the idea of storage. Having the things that you desire-say, a big house and fancy cars-does not make you materially wealthy if you don't have the wherewithal to keep those goods over a protracted period of time. Nor are you wealthy in friendship if the many friends you have now would abandon you if your fortune changed.
The point I'm making here may be too obvious to mention: Wealth is only sometimes about money. Understanding wealth in a broader sense, with implications that go beyond dollars and rupees, is essential.
Yes, the main purpose of our club is to help you become financially independent. But you want financial independence for specific reasons:
You want more freedom in your life. You want more choices about where you live, how you live, how much you work, and so on.
You want more leisure in your life. You don't want to feel compelled to work eight or 10 hours every day for five or six days every week.
You want more tranquility in your life. You would like an end to the stress that the lack of money sometimes causes. You want to be able to sleep easily at night and enjoy your days without worry.
These goals are wrapped up very tightly in your desire for wealth-and as a result, they are a fundamental part of every step in our club program.
Let's push a little further along this path and delve a little deeper into the way you think about your life and the things you value.
I'm hoping that money is not the most important thing in your life.
Nevertheless, material wealth does matter. It gives you the ability to help your friends, provide for your family, pursue intellectual and artistic interests, and become an inspirational role model for members of your community.
Plus, if you don't have an income sufficient to meet your needs, you'll spend a good deal of time fretting about it-and when you spend time fretting about money, you can't enjoy the things you truly care about.
This is a truth that more and more people are discovering late in their lives (including a few of my friends and family members). Stumbling into middle age with lifetimes of educational, social, and recreational experiences, people entering their 50s are waking up to depressing realization that they are working harder than ever to maintain a lifestyle that is not much better than the one they had when they were young.
I've had the good fortune to be able to help dozens of such people work themselves out of this sort ofpothole , regain solid ground, and go on to achieve financial independence. It took some time and it wasn't always easy, but it always began with a revelation-a revelation that was especially bracing for some of the smartest of them-that becoming financially independent is a good thing, something all good people should aspire to.
Having enough money can liberate you from an unrewarding job, free you to follow your dreams, and allow you to take care of your loved ones.
That's the reason you've joined the Wealth Builders Club India. But never forget that the desire for money can also corrupt you. If, in pursuing wealth, you begin to believe that the accumulation of money is an end in itself-well, that's a bad thing. You are going to get good advice from now on. And if you follow my suggestions faithfully for a reasonable period of time, you'll someday-probably sooner than any of your friends or colleagues-discover that you are wealthy. But when that day comes, I'm hoping the greed virus will not have infected you. I hope you won't have become addicted to the idea of making the money pile grow. I hope you won't have forgotten what you know now- that there are many things more important than money.
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
P.S.: I know that you are getting anxious for specific instructions you can start working on right away. Don't worry. They're coming. But this stuff is important. I want to be sure that you have done the right thinking. I want to be sure that you have accepted responsibility for your current financial situation. I want to be sure that you are committed to making a change. If you can do that, everything else will be easy.
Before I can help you lay out your wealth-building course of action-before we can come up with a plan to get you where you want to go-we need to know how much you are worth right now.
So let's figure it out.
Get a pad of paper and a pen, and make a list of all of your assets. By that, I mean stocks, bonds, precious metals, money in provident funds or insurance policies,), fixed deposit, savings accounts, a second home, and so on. You can also include the value (the true, current, salable value-don't fool yourself) of any valuable possessions that you own, such as jewelry, art, or antiques.
Now, I'm going to give you an instruction that will contradict what you'll hear from just about every financial planner: In tallying your assets, do not include the value of your home, your car, or any possessions you know you'll never part with.
Although these are, indeed, valuable assets, they are assets that you will almost certainly want to keep during your retirement years. This is especially true if you are able to achieve financial independence while you still have children at home. If you will be retiring after your children are grown and out on their own, you might very well choose to sell your house and get a less expensive one. I believe in keeping what you have for as long as you wish. (If you follow the advice we're going to give you shortly, you'll be able to do that.)
Okay, let's finish figuring out your net worth…
Now that you have a list of your assets, make another list of your liabilities, including credit card debts, personal loans, mortgages, business debts, and so on.
Subtract your liabilities from your assets, and you'll have your net worth.
If your personal net worth is less than the money you will need to retire on comfortably, you will end up working till the day you die.
To retire young enough to enjoy your golden years, you are going to need a respectable sum tucked away in income-producing investments.. But don't worry. You're in the right place now. We're about to send you a precise, deliberate plan for reaching financial independence… But before we do that, you need to make a commitment. That's the next step, tomorrow.
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
P.S.: One concept I'm going to stress over the next weeks and months is the importance of having multiple streams of income. How many do you have now? Money in the bank? Dividends? A pension? These are not enough. They are not enough, because-aside from money in the bank-you are not in control of them. As a member of our club, you will be given blueprints for developing more streams of income. These will be the real game changers of your financial life. Not stocks. Not bonds. Not gold. Additional streams of income. Stay tuned!
A man observes evergreens growing along the roadside and thinks that they look pretty, covered with snow. Another man sees the same trees and thinks, “These trees would look good in people's living rooms at Christmas. I wonder what they would pay for them?”
The first man has an ordinary mind. The second, the mind of a natural-born moneymaker.
In The Prime Movers, Edwin A. Locke provides some interesting insights into the way moneymakers think:
He argues that an active, inquisitive mind is a hallmark of the successful entrepreneur. The most successful entrepreneurs in history, he says, had this sort of mind.
Thomas Edison: He was a “virtual thinking machine. Almost until the day he died, his mind poured forth a torrent of ideas, and he might track as many as 60 experiments at a time in his laboratory.”
Steve Jobs: He bombarded people with his ideas-his investors, his board of directors, his customers, his subordinates, and his CEO.
Henry Ford: “He threw himself into every detail, insisting on getting small things absolutely right… But he never lost sight of the ultimate, overall objective. He had a vision of what his new car (the Model T) should look like. From all the improvisation, hard thought, and hard work came a machine that was at once the simplest and the most sophisticated automobile built to date anywhere in the world.”
Take my friend Bernard…
I have a friend from Manchester, England, who has this kind of moneymaking mind. I have known him for more than 20 years. During that time, he has started at least a dozen successful companies. Every company he forms, it seems, becomes successful very quickly. He has become a wealthy man and enjoys a wealthy man's lifestyle, but his interest in making money has never waned.
In that respect, he is very different from me. I became wealthy by making plans and working my ass off. And once I made more than I needed, I stopped paying attention to it.
He made his money effortlessly. Or so it always seemed. And he continues to make money, because he really enjoys the process.
He makes money not just by starting successful businesses and investing in real estate (my primary vehicles) but by buying and selling exotic cars, boats, antiques, and expensive watches. Every time I see him, he is driving a new car. One month, it's a Bentley. The next month, it's a Ferrari. He buys slightly used cars and enjoys them and then turns them over for a profit. He has become an expert in barter and countertrade. He never pays full price for anything. He knows how to get the best price for everything. And he loves the game.
Bernard may not have my net worth, but he's got more than enough for the rest of his life, and he seems to enjoy making money much more than I do.
I admire that about him. I like talking to him about all his recent deals. His excitement gets me excited. It also embarrasses me when I discover that he pays a fraction of what I pay for just about everything.
What if you don't have the Mind?
I'm convinced that people like Bernard have very special minds. Like Edison, Jobs, and Ford, he thinks differently than I do.
Raw intelligence is not the issue. Guys like Bernard are smart, but I don't think that he is any smarter than I am. And anyway, if it were a matter of intelligence, Einstein and a slew of other geniuses would have been wealthy men.
I call what Bernard has the multimillionaire's mindset. I've also called it the Rich Mind.
The goal is to discover exactly how guys like Bernard do what they do by figuring out how “Rich Minds” think. If you study this and subsequent essays seriously-and implement the suggestions I'll be making-you may be able to “upgrade” your brain to one that will allow you to have the kind of life they enjoy.
Some Preliminary Observations
To get started, here are some observations I've made from studying my multimillionaire mindset friends and from reading about great wealth builders like Jobs and Edison and Ford.
A “normal” person is concerned with protecting his ego. When dealing with a problem he doesn't really understand, he pretends that he understands the contributing factors and doesn't try to find out what anyone else thinks. A person with a multimillionaire mind asks questions incessantly. He has no ego when it comes to learning. He knows that knowledge is power.
A “normal” person has a consumer mentality. He looks at a hot new product and thinks about how he would like to own one. A person with a multimillionaire mind has an entrepreneurial mentality. He looks at it and thinks, “How can I produce this or something similar in my own industry?”
A “normal” person is wish-focused. He daydreams about making gobs of money. A person with a multimillionaire mind is reality-based. He is always analyzing his own success and the success of others and wondering how he could learn from it.
A “normal” person, when confronted with a challenging idea, thinks of all of the reasons why it might not work. A person with a multimillionaire mind sees the potential in it and disregards the problems until he has a clear vision of how it might succeed.
A “normal” person resists change. A person with a multimillionaire mind embraces it.
A “normal” person accepts the status quo. A person with a multimillionaire mind is always looking to make things-even good things-better.
A “normal” person reacts. A person with a multimillionaire mind is proactive.
A “normal” person looks at a successful business owner and thinks, “That guy's lucky.” Or “That guy's a scammer.” A person with a multimillionaire mind thinks, “What's his secret?” And “How can I do that?”
You can start your mental transformation to a multimillionaire mindset by studying this list and assessing your own impulses. Be honest. Identify the habits you don't have and try to develop them. Rather than thinking of this process as work, think of it as fun.
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
P.S.: Do you feel ready? Do you feel ready to develop a multimillionaire mind? I hope so. Because it is a necessary condition for accomplishing your goals. If what you have read so far hasn't moved you, hasn't made you reconsider some of your past decisions, and hasn't set a fire in you that spells “change,” then ask for a refund now. I love you, but I can't help you. But if you are ready, if you understand what I've been saying, then get ready. Because things are going to change!
It's time for you to decide to get rich-and start to make it happen.
If you are not financially independent yet, I can put you on the right path-if you can commit yourself to the plan laid out in the pages that follow.
Can you do that? Good.
Then I have one question for you: When are you going to start? Next month? Next week? When you get through taking this course?
The correct answer is “none of the above.”
There is only one time to begin an important journey. And that is immediately. You don't have to invest in a stock today or buy a piece of property tomorrow, but you do have to do something that will get you going. I'll tell you exactly what that is.
But before I do, let's talk about why it's so important to act immediately. Because now is the best time ever to build wealth.
Why? Because now is always the best time.
Now is always the best time to start anything. Results take time, and time is a limited resource. The sooner you begin, the faster you'll get where you want to go.
Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals, and charge after them in an unstoppable manner. -Les Brown
This is universally true, but it's especially true when the goal is to build wealth. You can't control the economy. You can't predict the markets. You can't ultimately protect yourself from disaster. But you can make yourself richer tomorrow than you are today.
There's always something you can do. Work an extra hour in the morning. Work another extra hour before you go home at night. Sell an extra widget. Start a partnership. Cook up a moneymaking idea.
Remember, every rupee you earn today is more valuable than a rupee you earn tomorrow-because of the value of compound interest. And every financially valuable secret you learn today is more valuable than it would be if you learned it tomorrow-because of the value of compound knowledge.
Be cognizant of the times we live in-the slowing economy, the corrupt business practices-but be equally aware of the passing of time. Every day that passes is 24 hours of opportunity that you won't have again. Why not put a bit of that time to work for you right now?
The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating-in work, in play, in love. -Anne Morriss
The single biggest reason that people fail in life is that they never take effective action.
Poverty is a problem but not an insurmountable one. Countless successful men and women began their lives in poverty.
Ignorance is a problem too, but that can be overcome by anyone willing to learn.
Indecision and fear (of failure or success) are common obstacles to success. But all of these obstacles can be overcome, easily, by the individual who makes a commitment to take action, to figure out where he wants to go, and then to set one foot in front of the other in that direction.
Successful people don't sit around waiting for everything to be “100%” right or to be “absolutely sure” they will succeed. They assess the odds. And if the odds are reasonably good, they strike out boldly and energetically. They don't need absolute assurance, because they realize life doesn't provide any.
The cost of failure, successful people know from experience, is very modest, compared with the cost of inaction. Failure means you are smarter the next time. Inaction means there is no next time. There is only a lifetime of unhappiness-first of worry and then of regret.
I am going to make this process easy. I'm going to tell you what you need to do today. And then I'm going to tell you what you have to do if you want to become successful-and not just financially but in every area of your life.
Ready? This is what you have to do today: Print and fill out the following pledge. Then mail it to:
Common Sense Living, 103, Regent Chambers, Above Status Restaurant, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400 021.
Or scan and email a copy to: email@example.com
Your pledge will be scanned and posted on the wall of the Wealth Builders website that we're creating.
To complete your pledge, please click here or download the attachment.
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I, , here and now commit to creating a master plan that will make me wealthier at the end of this year and every year thereafter. I further commit to invest the time and money required to meet my goals and to keep a journal to track my progress. At the end of the year, I promise to write you a short letter explaining all that I have achieved. Signature: _
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That's it! Do it now! I can't offer you an “absolute, 100% guarantee”… but if you are willing to take my advice and follow the master plan outlined in this club, I am willing to guarantee-99%-that this time next year, you will be well on your way to wealth and all of the good things that come with it.
Is that good enough for you? If so, let's get started!
Yours in common ambition, Mark Ford
P.S.: This is the end of the first leg of your journey. If you've already sent me your pledge, congratulations. If not, please do it now. I'm serious. The physical act of sending it will forge a deeper commitment.
In the following days, we are going to go over the essential strategies for building wealth. These are all strategies that I have used. And they are all strategies that I have successfully taught others. They will work for you. I am eager to get started. I hope you are too!
P.P.S.: If it's not obvious, the “take away” from today's message is this: People like me, who begin poor and acquire wealth, are not just lucky. Sure, it feels like luck when you look back on it. But the truth is, acquiring wealth happens only if you make a lot of correct decisions over a number of years. So if you have been harboring any feelings of victimization, put them aside. Yes, you may have been given bad advice. Yes, the government has taken a portion of your wealth from you. But none of these things can stop you from acquiring wealth if you make the right decisions.
The right decision-at this very moment-is to commit wholeheartedly to getting rich. And every decision you make from now on will further that goal.