Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review: John T. Reed's Succeeding

Succeeding is John T. Reed's self-help book. Self-help books are generally boring and bland, since they have to be designed to sell to as many people as possible. Reed, however, has a very strong personality and depending on who you are, you may or may not want to read 300 pages worth of the kind of material he has on his web-site.

I enjoyed Succeeding. I think it's very much worth the time. In some cases, I came across advice in the book that I wish I had when I was 18. For instance, Reed spends an appendix and a few sections referring to his "Dating System". I discovered the same thing when I was nearly 30. He did it in a systematic fashion when he was a West Pointer in college.

His section on investing is a great summary of Unconventional Success, which is a great place to start, and shows that he's not an idiot about finances. Unlike other books on the topic, he covers the selection of appropriate financial goals, and points out that setting them too high can cause you to take more risk than you should have, and that pursuit of too much wealth distorts your life in ways that you might not imagine.

He pushes self-employment pretty hard, as he thinks that being a cog in a big machine of either the army, the federal government, or a large company is bad for people with a strong sense of ethics. To a large extent, I agree, but I've also had a good career with many Silicon Valley startups, all of which were uniformly concerned with ethics and doing the right thing, so I disagree that you have to go the self-employed route. However, self-employment is the route to wealth for most millionaires, as described in The Millionaire Next Door, and Reed is writing for the general public, not your typical Silicon Valley software engineer, so I'll give him a pass there.

I don't agree with everything he writes, but in the essential stuff (risk, reward, choice of career, staying away from alcohol, tobacco and drugs), I think he's got it right.

All in all, this book was worth $29.95, which is a good thing, since that's what you'll have to pay for a copy. Reed is self-published, and does not sell to bookstores (especially not Amazon, against which he has a grudge) and libraries.
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