How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis
One Line Summary
The dirty secrets rich people use to make money and exploit the little man
There’s not many people who are richer than Felix Dennis.
At a speculated net worth of over $400 million dollars (“rich people never know how much money they have”), Dennis built several famous magazine companies and wrote a couple best-selling books. He’s also knows a thing or two about poetry.
You probably won’t have to strain your brain to figure out what How to Get Rich is about. Dennis shares all his lessons in his rise to multimillions and tells you what it really means to get rich.
Why it’s Awesome
This book is raw. Maybe people want to give you feel-good platitudes when it comes to getting rich. But Dennis just lays it out like he sees it.
The truth, according to Dennis, isn’t pretty. Here are some of the things Dennis suggests in his book:
-Aim solely for money (ignore trying to be the best)
-Lie, cheat and steal for ownership percentage
-Exploit people’s needs in negotiating
So this is not a “pretty book”. You’re not going to find a ton of uplifting, inspirational messages here.
If you want those kind of feel good ideas, go somewhere else.
I’m not advocating any strategy in Dennis’s book. But what I do love is that it’s an honest account of what one man who became successful found to be true.
There’s also a lot of nuance in How To Get Rich. Dennis isn’t offering a simple approach to wealth building.
For instance, Dennis talks about how riches come to those with dogged desire, persistence and self-confidence. Only those who believe they will become rich and then act out that belief with extraordinary action will become rich.
But, Dennis also talks about the importance of not giving a shit about making money at all. So what’s the truth? Care or don’t care?
The answer is both. Both are true in certain circumstances.
If you have a large fear of failure, what you need is confidence in yourself and the burning desire to keep pushing through.
But when you’re at the negotiating table, he who needs less, wins.
Those are just examples. But they point to the contradictory nature of reality.
This is why it’s beneficial to get a large range of perspectives. Everyone has their own truth, and by taking pieces of their truth, you can build an even better understanding.
I also like this book because it’s practical. Dennis doesn’t just give out generalities like “be more confident”, he gives very specific advice for negotiation, staff relations and many more areas of entrepreneurship.
The most interesting advice to me was about ownership. To Dennis, ownership of a well-run private company is the only thing that matters when it comes to getting rich. Period.
This might come as a bit of a shock, as I know it did for me. When I applied to YCombinator, it was suggested that all founders split equity evenly in order to avoid disputes and be efficient.
Good for YCombinator. Potentially not so good for individuals looking to get rich.
Why is equity that important? For one thing, equity means control. A 51/49% split means whoever gets 49% might as well be an employee.
On top of that, wealth flows to whoever is on top. That’s just how our economic system works.
So unless you’re taking your company public, getting rich = ownership.
Of course, you still have to have a company making money. 100% ownership in Blockbuster isn’t going to do you very much good right now. But provided that conditions are met, get equity.
Also keep in mind that this advice is for people looking to get to the level of Felix Dennis, i.e hundreds of millions of dollars. If you’re fine with 6 or even 7 figures a year, you can probably ignore this advice.
One final thing I really enjoyed about this book is that Dennis realizes money isn’t all that important. He even refers to it as a “game” that doesn’t mean much in the end.
And he’s right. You could have all the money in the world, but wherever you go, there you are.
You’re still just the same you.
That doesn’t make being poor is superior to being rich, or that it’s not worth pursuing money. But it does mean that people should have the proper expectations.
There’s too much “once I get to point X, everything will MAGICALLY work out and I’ll explode into perfect happiness”. That’s a delusion of the mind.
I’ve felt myself doing this “deal-striking” many times. It never worked even if I got my goal, and even more incredibly, I would lie to myself and say that I didn’t strike a deal.
That was the really trippy part. The extreme potential for self-deception.
But hey, the only thing worse than seeking is not seeking. Everyone comes to these lessons in their own way and in their own time.
Or not. Free will means you have the ability to mistakes. Everything isn’t just going to work out because of some divine plan, evolution shows no mercy and you have to make the right decisions.
How’s that for a paradox?
Why Does It Suck
Some of this book I didn’t relate to simply because I don’t have some major company with hundreds of employees. So a lot of his advice just wasn’t applicable to me.
Beyond that, I just can’t say I had a lot of insights by reading this book. A lot of it I already knew or had heard before in some fashion.
Of course, I read a lot. So for you, maybe a lot of these ideas would be brand new.
The Wrap Up
Great book to pull some of the stars off people’s eyes when it comes to getting rich. You’re not just going to manifest money because you read The Secret, nor does making money imply you’re just a super nice guy 24/7.
Getting rich can be cutthroat. It you want a more hardcore perspective, read this book.