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Books that Changed My Thinking
By Vena Jones-Cox

Like you, I have much less time to read business and investing books than I’d like—and when I do make the time, I’m usually catching up on the latest homestudy course. That’s why, before I pick up a non-fiction book to read, it has to come to me recommended by someone I trust. And before I recommend them to someone else, I have to believe that they really have something new and valuable to say. If I read a book that’s just a rehashing of something I’ve heard a dozen times before (or just full of lame platitudes with no real advice), I usually put it down unfinished. But every once in awhile, I find a non-fiction book that really changes my outlook on life, success, or business. With the recent death of author Stephan Covey, this topic has been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d share some of my go-to non-fiction books with you:
No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, by Dan Kennedy. This book has apparently been in print for awhile—and is part of a series of “No B.S.” books that Kennedy has produced.
To be completely honest, I find Dan’s general attitude about life and business to be somewhat grating, and I disagree with a lot of his philosophies about customer service and producing educational product. I’ve never been so unhappy with a live event as I was with his marketing/business workshop—in fact, I walked out early, something I NEVER do.
Which is why it was so surprising that I got so much out of this book. I’ve read a bazillion time management, and most of them focus on how to get more done. This one starts by challenging us with the question: are we even doing the right things?
The big “aha” for me in reading this book—and I’ll read it again next year, to get the next level of it—was that, despite the fact that I generally “work” 30 hours a week, I only have about 15 hours a week of really valuable time. The balance is taken up with managing employees, doing what Michael Gerber would call “technician” work, and generally NOT planning, marketing, or systemizing my business. It happens that for me, the best, most creative time of day is the morning—and so I now spend every morning from 7:30-10:30 at a coffeehouse, away from interruptions by phone, employees, etc. This practice has boosted the productivity of my 15 hours a week enormously (and drives my employees nuts).
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris. Not just recommended to me—SENT to me by FastTrack mentor John Sousa. And I may never forgive him; this book nearly ruined my life.
The basic theme is that working 40 (or 50 or 70) hours a week for 40 years, then hoping to retire and do all the things you’ve always wanted is a dumb paradigm. Instead, Ferris says, maximize your productivity (though outsourcing, delegation, and simply not doing things that don’t make money) so that you can “retire” for 3-6 months at a time every year or so. Ferris himself has used his “mini-retirements” to study dance in Argentina, become a full-time ski bum, and other cool stuff.
The nice thing about this book is that there are actual resources for finding, say, virtual assistants in India and actual techniques for, say, convincing your boss that you don’t have to be in the office to do your job.
The downside is that every real estate investor I’ve recommended it to has said, “great concept, some useful ideas, but this would NEVER work in my business”. I believe that it can—we just have to figure out how.
How did it ruin my life? By making me realize that all I have to do to live the one of my dreams is to be willing to completely overhaul myself and my business. It’s completely doable, and it’s my own fault if I don’t do it.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First, both by Stephen Covey et al. Actually, I read both of these books over a decade ago, and reread them both every year or so. There’s a lot of wisdom here about balancing long and short-term goals and priorities; about being pro-active rather than re-active, and about letting go of what you can’t control.
But the way that these books changed my life THIS year was that Mr. Drew read them, and took much of the time management advice to heart. The turnaround has been nothing short of amazing. Yes, he still struggles with planning (especially long-term planning), but I have to give props to any book that can get my partner up and working at 8 a.m. for weeks on end.
These 3 books are truly must-reads for every entrepreneur. Like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Think and Grow Rich, they’re foundational education for real estate investors.
Do you have a favorite non-fiction book you’d like to share with your fellow Inner Circle members? Tell me what it is and why, and I’ll share it in a future e-lesson.

Reprinted with permission of Vena Jones-Cox. To get more free articles and tips, subscribe at

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