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Book Review: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

By: Steve Johnson

6/24/2009 - 41 Comments

T. Harv Eker is a self make millionaire who has turned his attention to helping other people understand how they can become millionaires.

This is an excellent book and Harv has helped thousands of people get over their bad ideas and bad habits about money with his book and training courses.  

This book detailed Harv’s system to help people understand how to think like a millionaire.
A good summary of Harv’s research can be found on page 10,

“The vast majority of people simply do not have the internal capacity to create and hold on to large amounts of money and the increased challenges that go with more money and success. That, my friends, s the primary reason they don’t have much money.” 

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

 

Through the book Harv shares several key money principles, here are a few;

  • There is no such thing as a really rich victim
  • Rich people focus on opportunities, poor people focus on obstacles
  • Rich people admire other rich and successful people, poor people resent rich an successful people
  • Rich people are good receivers, while poor people are not
  • Rich people are always learning and growing, while poor people think they already know
  • Rich people manage their money, poor people don’t

Harv explains that the surest way to stay poor is to continue acting like the poor, by complaining, not looking for opportunities, resenting the rich, not being a good receive, not continuously learning and not managing your money.  Harv has great advice and these tips are essential to understand and change your thinking about money.

I have boiled down my summary of millionaire thinking ideas into this article, 10 Habits of the Prosperous.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is what Harv says on page 119,

“Many poor people actually believe they are better people because they are poor. Somehow they believe they’re more pious or good. … Some people just don’t ever have the opportunity to have a lot of money. If you are one of the lucky people who do have that ability… Get really rich and then help people who don’t have the opportunity you did.  That makes a lot more sense to me than being broke and helping no one. Of course there are people who will say, “Money will change me. If I get rich, I might turn into some kind of greedy jerk.” … 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. “

What I Didn’t Like

Harv has a lot of good information, but there were a few things that I have concerns with.  To summarize my disappointment, like many other recent popular books, this book contains a mixture of truth and non-truth – and it’s very difficult to tell the difference.

The growing trend of self-help teachers over the last decade has me a bit skeptical. Even the mega churches are now more about self-help and personal growth than anything else.  Just look at Joel Osteen’s new book “Better Life Now” from the Lakewood mega church in Houston TX.  At least Joel gives credit to the true source of all these ideas of personal growth, which can be traced back to the Bible.

True Wealth

True wealth is not something that everyone can have.  It’s just not possible for everyone to become rich.  Yet, that is what Harv seems to teach with his idea that there is an abundance of money.  On page 135, Harv says we need to believe that there is an unlimited supply of money, yet he says “I’m not an economist, but from what I can see, they just keep printing more of the stuff every day.”

On page 165, Harv says everyone should learn now to invest their money.  The problem is that learning where to invest money, takes knowledge about economic trends.  Harv’s success came from an economic trend.  Without a deep understanding of the economy, success is reduced to luck. So, in saying that he is not an economist, Harv is saying that he just got lucky.

Harv acknowledges that luck plays a part in getting rich along with taking action, on page 80, “..no luck – or anything else worthwhile – will come your way unless you take some form of action.”

The problem is that you cannot build a repeatable system of business success based on luck.  Harv also explains what is takes to get lucky, when he says on page 9, – “It’s not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You have to be the right person in the right place at the right time.”

Harv is right, they are printing more money all the time, but paper money is not wealth. So, technically if you are accumulation money as fast as the government is printing it, you are not gaining wealth.  I am interesting in gaining wealth and gaining knowledge that can be used repeatedly, and that takes an understanding of the economy.

Harv should not be so afraid of being labeled an ‘economist’, because an economic understanding is key to building wealth in a world of governments that are constantly manipulating the currency and changing the playing field for many industries.    

Personal Value

Harv tried to help people get over depression and realize there value when he says, “This unwritten rule simple states that if you do something wrong, you will or should be punished. Some of us were punished by our parents, some by our teachers … and some of us in the religious circles were threatened with the mother of all punishments, not getting to heaven.” page 112, which Harv says is bogus.

The Bible said that God has written the ability to understand sin on our hearts or within our mind. That is why we feel bad when we know we have sinned against God.  This is not an unwritten rule and is impossible to remove from our mind because it is part of our nature.

The only way to get past this and realize our true value is to realize that we have been created in the image of God, but are sinners that fall short of the glory of God and therefore need to believe in Jesus and ask for God to forgive us of our sins (Romans 10:9) “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

This is not just a story, this is the truth.  Without this, you can tell yourself you are worthy all day long – but to whom?  Harv says that we don’t need to pray to God to accept us, we can pray to ourselves – page 115. 

But prayer is a form of worship and praying to yourself is worshiping yourself as your own God.  This is called humanism.  There is no hope and no future in humanism. I’m not sure what religion Harv believes in or if he understands what he is saying.  This is an example of how truth is mixed in with non-truth.

I find it amazing to read that the Bible even predicted Harv’s success as many will gather around teachers that teach this way;

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3)"

The Victory of Reason

There is victory in understanding your reason for being.  The power of understanding that God loves you and has a plan for your life that is greater than your life, which includes a future beyond your time on earth – is the most powerful motivating factor any human can have. 

That is why the foundation of Christianity led to the greatest economy in the world.  For more about this, read “The Victory of Reason”

Entrepreneurship

Towards the end of the book, Harv gives some very encouraging words about how everyone should find a way to get paid for what they are worth.  Harv suggests, “Personally, I believe just about everyone should own their own business, be it full-time or part-time.  The first reason is that by far, the vast majority of millionaires become rich by being in their own business.”  Page 127

I cannot argue with that last part, just being in business for yourself increases your likelihood of becoming rich.
On page 156, Harv says the rich find a way to get others to work for them. And again, I agree, but then how could everyone start a business and get rich?  Who would work for them?  

Many of the modern technologies that we have today were not invented by small businesses, but by large businesses that had enough money to invest in long term projects with thousands of engineers or scientists.  Everyone cannot be rich and everyone should not try to start a business.  That advice could lead a lot of people into bankruptcy. 

Most of the large industries are also deeply tied to the political system, which means that many large businesses have competitive advantages that are highly protected by government regulations.  Before competing with them, you need to also learn a lot about politics and need to know a lot of the right people. 

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend everyone trading a good job to try and start their own business.  Good jobs are hard to come by because of geopolitical relationships coupled with government supported competitive advantages to protect jobs. 

I realize that Harv is not suggesting getting into all of this big business politics, but it is an integral part of all business and without realizing it is to not understanding what you are getting into. 

This is why one of my financial principles is “there are almost always good reasons behind why things are the way they are”.  Understanding the reasons is the difficult part. The most important thing you can do when starting a business is to learn and learning can be very expensive. 

When you start a business without a deep understanding of the industry you are attaching, realize that you will more than likely fail but will learn a lot about the industry along the way, and most of the time you will learn that you have no way of gaining a competitive advantage over the existing competitors without changing the rules. 

Don’t quit your day job without a clear competitive advantage or an economic trend that you can take advantage of to attack a new market that has little competition (like Harv did).

Summary

Harv has some good practical advice, but realize he got lucky and you will probably not have his success in your personal finances.   You are just as likely to get rich by working hard at your job, living below your income and investing wisely – dabbling in business when opportunities come your way.

Most of this book contains excellent advice about how to think differently about money. Harv is an excellent teacher and communicator.  I recommend this book to everyone who wants to improve their personal finances.

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