"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what your definition of “wealth” is. Have you got something in mind?

To me, wealth is freedom. Specifically, freedom of choice. When we're financially independent, we can structure our day exactly how we like and we have the means to fully experience life. It also offers the resources to contribute to the causes we care about, say, helping to find a cure for a disease that may have impacted your family.

Many people, sadly, have a negative connotation of wealth. It’s completely up to you to create your own definition, but I urge you to ensure it’s written in the positive. Reframing your mindset is one of the most fundamental steps in transitioning to being a financial winner.

Yet, we don’t teach this in schools.

Wealth does not guarantee you’ll be free of problems. In fact, for many people, building wealth creates a whole host of new problems because their same bad habits are just amplified. However, if you’ve got the right blueprint, wealth is an enormously powerful force for good in your family, your community, and the world.

With an idea of what wealth looks like to you, take another moment to think about what "lifestyle" you want. A lot of people over-complicate personal finance, but all we’re essentially doing is thinking about what life we want to live and then setting up the pieces that are going to enable us to enjoy that lifestyle.

Simple, right?

So close your eyes and fast forward to 5, 10, 20 years down the track: What does your ideal life look like?

Can you vividly describe your house, and where you are? Who are the people you’re enjoying it with? In that moment, what is making you the happiest?

Like with any worthy endeavor, we get the best results by beginning with the end in mind. With that foundation, let's explore some proven strategies you can immediately apply to achieve financial independence and become a financial winner.

1. Start now.

We see this with every goal—people have the best intentions, always promising to ‘get around to it' but never do. Make the commitment to start now:

If you’re not willing to make personal finance a priority, none of the other steps will help you. As the Chinese Proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

2. Know where your money is going.

If you can measure it, you can manage it. In previous episodes, we’ve spoken about the importance of auditing your energy so you can stay happy, and we’ve spoken about auditing your time so you can stay productive. This is the version we do for managing your money.

Track every dollar you earn and every dollar you spend using a spreadsheet or, the old-fashioned way, on a piece of paper. (You can also use ASIC’s Budget Planner, which although designed for Australians is just as applicable globally).

Write down your:

Income:

Expenses:

Add these five expense fields together and multiply to create your Annual Expenses.

Next, take your Annual Income and subtract your Annual Expenses. How much is left? This answer will show whether you’re trending in the right or wrong direction. (Warning: This might be confronting, especially if you discover that your expenses are more than your income, but it’s much better to be aware now so you can take steps to fix it.)

Now, we’ve got a clear idea of where your money is going. Just remember: the aim is to have as much money working for you as possible, rather than the other way around.

That paves the way for step three…

3. Spend less than you earn.

One of the easiest ways to give yourself a pay rise is to spend less! Just as one of the easiest ways to give yourself a pay cut is to spend more. This is one of the most painfully obvious and simple tips, yet it eludes so many people.

The digital world means we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements, while at the same time getting hammered with posts on social media that fire up our human drive to keep up with the Joneses. If you’re not sure what it means to 'keep up with the Joneses', it’s trying to match the social status of your neighbors and friends by doing foolish things with money you don’t have, such as buying a new luxury car, just to impress them.

When you make a habit out of spending less than you earn, you have more money at your disposal to create greater wealth in the future. For example, if a bill arrives, you can pay it now without incurring an additional interest charge. If there’s an essential purchase you need to make, you might find there are favorable terms for an upfront payment, or a penalty for paying in installments.

If you’re currently in debt, do everything you can to pay off bad debt (i.e. debt that is not tax deductible) as quickly as possible, making sure to prioritize items that have the highest interest rate (e.g. your credit card). For example, if you’ve got $1,000 available, it would be better to put it towards a credit card bill that is incurring 18% interest, rather than a student loan that might only be incurring 5% interest. Aim to reduce and then eradicate your reliance on credit cards altogether.

(Note: some people can do well out of the bonus points assigned to new credit card recipients; however, it often requires a lot of research, an in depth knowledge of the fine print, and an ongoing focus to avoid penalties, so my preference for most people is to avoid credit cards altogether if possible.)

Again, the aim is to have as much money working for you as you can.

4. You don't miss what you don't get.

It’s human nature to spend all that we get—that’s why tax agencies like the IRS and ATO tax your employer first before you receive your wages. Yet, funnily, if we don’t have it to spend, we don’t miss it.

Personal finance classic The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason suggested that one of the key wealth creation tips was to “save at least 10% of everything you earn.” You might think that losing 10% of your income would be unlivable, but if the government introduced an additional 10% tax on income, most people would be able to adjust their lifestyle to accommodate. You might even be motivated knowing that 10% will be returned to you at a later date … with interest.

Rather than seeing how much is left in your bank account after you’ve enjoyed the week, make the commitment upfront—the moment you receive your pay—and save at least 10% of everything you earn.

There are even apps out there, like Acorns, that round up to the nearest dollar from everyday purchases and invests that tiny amount into a diversified portfolio recommended for your risk profile. For example, if you bought a $3.25 coffee, $0.75 would be invested into the portfolio. That might not sound like much, but you would be amazed at how much it adds up over a year, especially when you are able to harness the power of compound interest (more on that in the next post) and have the option of adding more anytime you like.

5. Make it a habit.

Too many people ignore the benefit of good money management because they believe they aren’t earning enough. “I’ll do it when I get my next pay rise,” they say. Only they never get around to it.

Regardless of how much you’re currently earning, get into the habit of good financial decisions.

If you struggle with change, technology is here to help! There are services out there nowadays that make the process automatic, so the habit is done for you. Previously, we spoke about apps like Acorns that enable you to contribute a portion of everyday purchases into an investment account. However, here are two other simple options to help:

Generally, you should follow this order when you receive your pay:

  1. Investment.
  2. Essential fixed expenses.
  3. Essential variable expense.
  4. Contingencies.
  5. Whatever is left can be made available for discretionary expenses.

Get into good habits as early as you possibly can.

6. Put your money to work.

Due to fear about losing all their money in the stock market, many people opt to leave their money in a savings account. However, this is about one of the worst things you can do with money you’ve set aside to invest.

Let’s look at a few countries to inspect their interest rates and compare them to inflation:

CountryInterest RateInflation
Australia1%1.3%
Canada1.75%2.4%
Japan-0.1%0.7%
United Kingdom0.75%2%
United States2.5%1.6%

Source: Trading Economics (July 2019)

In many cases, inflation is higher than interest so you’re actually losing money keeping it in the bank.

Financial winners invest their money wisely. An easy way to get started is to invest in an index fund, which provides low fees, diversification, and a decent annual return—ensuring you opt to reinvest all dividends and stick with it over the long-term. The stock market has one or two volatile years each decade, but historically has returned around 9% per year.

You can also use dollar cost averaging, which is a strategy to smooth out any volatility. The idea is that you continue to buy X number of shares each month, no matter what. When the market is performing strongly, your portfolio will be doing well, and when the market is weak, you can buy more shares at a cheaper price. This strategy protects against the futile task of ‘timing the market’ and over the long term you will have a lot more money working for you than you would have otherwise.

For example, if you invested in the Nasdaq-100 Index Fund in the US 10 years ago (between 2009 – 2019), you would experience the usual volatility but enjoy a strong overall average annual return:

Source: Yahoo Finance (July 2019)

If you invested in the Australian All Ordinaries Accumulation Index for that same 10-year period, the average annual return would be 10%, again assuming dividends are reinvested. Performance will vary based on the fund you choose and at what time you start, but remember:

For most people, keeping your money stuck in a savings account is far from ideal. Just remember that obtaining professional advice for your unique situation is extremely important because it can vary significantly depending on your circumstances, investment goals, and risk profile (we’ll touch on this more later).

7. Spend money on items that appreciate in value.

Financial winners build a diverse portfolio of quality assets that appreciate. In contrast, financial losers spend all their money (and then some) on items like jet skis and new cars that depreciate.

Let’s use an example. In 2009, Jenna’s after-tax salary was $50,000/year, and she decided to setup an auto debit for 20% of her pay each fortnight (equaling $10,000/year) going to a new account that she couldn’t touch for everyday purchases. Jenna’s skills increased in that time, and so did her salary, but she kept her contributions at $10,000/year.

The funds were invested into an index fund that averaged 9%/year. Prior to tax and inflation, here is what Jenna’s account would be worth:

Remember, this is just from 20% of her take-home pay from 10 years ago! Imagine if Jenna held the commitment of 20% of her income as her salary increased?

8. Harness the power of compound interest.

Albert Einstein once said: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it.” It’s the key to understanding how small sums add up, leading to enormous gains for financial winners and extreme losses for financial losers.

Let’s reflect again on Jenna in the last example. The longer she left her investment, the quicker it multiplied. Let’s add two more periods:

That’s the power of compounding!

Financial losers spend all their pay, and often borrow even more on credit cards, for items that depreciate, such as travel, clothing, and new cars. To illustrate the power of compound interest working against you, let’s think about Jenna’s friend, Luke.

In 2009, Luke didn’t listen to Jenna and decided to borrow $20,000 for a European holiday and some new clothes. Luke made these purchases on a credit card because the bank, who he trusted, said his financial history was good. The interest rate on the credit card was 20%.

Luke returned from holiday and noticed that each bank statement said he only needed to pay 2% of the balance ($200/month), which he did diligently. He met with Jenna who informed him of the problems with spending money on credit cards, so Luke cut up the credit card and never used it again.

However, the statements kept coming.

Eventually, after nine years, Luke was free of his credit card debt. Paying more than $23,000 in interest alone had taught him a valuable lesson. He realized that banks know compound interest better than anyone, and that’s why they seem happy to lend indiscriminately. Luke learnt the hard way that “Compound interest on debt was the banker's greatest invention, to capture, and enslave, a productive society” as Albert Einstein said.

9. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

At a recent haircut, the hairdresser, Michelle, was telling me how her life was going to change. A friend-of-a-friend had approached her about an ‘amazing opportunity’ in Las Vegas where they were going to pool their money, borrow some additional funds from the bank, and buy property that was guaranteed to return 15% per year.

Michelle was young and inexperienced with investment, and clearly too trusting of this acquaintance. Alarm bells should ring if anyone comes to you with an opportunity that boasts guaranteed returns, especially high ones. As the adage says: “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”

Previously, we have spoken about investing in an index fund. For the average investor, this is a reliable strategy because it provides good exposure to the market (i.e. diversification) at a low cost. You can sell all (or part) of your investment at any time, and it’s regulated by the authorities such as the SEC or ASIC. If one company on the index fails, you’re still protected by the strength of the other companies.

On the other hand, if you invested all your money in a single company, you might wake up one day to find that the company has gone under and you’ve lost all your money. A parcel of many companies has much smoother returns and less risk than a single company.

For most people, buying a home is the goal. A benefit of this is the forced saving commitment as you work to pay off the loan. However, if you need to access funds quickly, you cannot sell the kitchen. If you’ve got a background in building or property, buying a house can be lucrative but, for the average person, starting with an index fund is often the better option.

If you do buy property, remember that most of the value is in the land, which should dissuade you from buying brand new apartments off the plan, lest you find yourself in a situation like this.

For speculative investments, such as cryptocurrency, only use money you’re willing to lose.

10. The best investment is knowledge.

I love the Zig Ziglar quote: “Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.” The best investment you can make is in yourself. A commitment to your ongoing education will help you not only identify opportunities but recognize potential danger too.

For example, if in 2008 when the stock market crashed, you paid attention to the doomsday news stories and sold your index fund investment, you might’ve felt satisfied in the short-term thinking you had avoided further disaster. However, if you had invested in yourself too, you would’ve understood that the stock market is driven in large part by greed and fear, and that all you did was crystallize a loss. After all, the index fund was invested in real companies who have come through these downturns before. As a result of selling, you missed the growth that has happened since, which likely far surpassed the point where you sold.

The right book or podcast could be worth more than a million dollars to you, but most people would rather watch TV. The best investment you can make is in yourself.

11. Communicate with your partner.

Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce (divorce rates by country), and if you’ve ever been involved in a divorce or witnessed one firsthand, you’ll know it’s definitely one of those things you want to avoid.

Financial issues, which in most cases can be alleviated through communication and planning, is the leading cause of relationship stress and marriage breakdown. Here are some interesting statistics:

Schedule time regularly to ask your partner about their goals, and then share your own thoughts. It might feel like an awkward conversation at first, but it will save you a lot of heartache—and potentially tens of thousands of dollars—down the track.

12. Seek professional advice.

This is an extremely important one. I strongly urge you to seek professional advice where your unique circumstances, goals, and risk profile can be evaluated, and an investment plan prepared for you after taking all that into account.

What’s the best way to find a good financial planner?

Once you’ve done the above, make a list of 3-4 people, or companies, that you think would be a good fit, and then take an initial consultation to see who takes the time to understand you. One of the best ways to judge the merits of a prospective financial planner for you is by the questions they ask and how attentive they are to your responses.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
11 Tips to Supercharge Your Productivity

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50 Best Personal Finance Quotes

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it.” – Albert Einstein

“‘A part of all I earn is mine to keep.' Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.” ― George S. Clason (The Richest Man in Babylon)

“Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner.” – Warren Buffett

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” – George Lorimer

“Buy when everyone else is selling and hold until everyone else is buying. That’s not just a catchy slogan. It’s the very essence of successful investing.” – J. Paul Getty

“The power of compound interest the most powerful force in the universe.” – Albert Einstein

“Never spend your money before you have it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford

“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” – Warren Buffett

“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” – Ben Graham

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Successful investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Life is full of uncertainties. However, I can guarantee you one thing: those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it.” – Noel Whittaker

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because they planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” – William A. Ward

“To attain emotional maturity, each of us must learn to develop two critical capacities: the ability to live with uncertainty and the ability to delay immediate gratification in favor of long-range goals.” – Noel Whittaker

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley

“How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” – Robert G. Allen

“Don’t keep knowledge trapped in your head or your money stuck in a savings account.” – James Whittaker

“The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” – Phillip Fisher

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” – P.T. Barnum

“Becoming wealthy is not a matter of how much you earn, who your parents are, or what you do … it is a matter of managing your money properly.” – Noel Whittaker

“What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.” – Warren Buffett

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau

“If you understand compound interest, you basically understand the universe.” – Robert Breault

“Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett

“If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.” – Warren Buffett

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self.” – Nathan W. Morris

“I’m only rich because I know when I’m wrong…I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes.” –George Soros

“Compound interest on debt was the banker's greatest invention, to capture, and enslave, a productive society.” – Albert Einstein

“Too many people spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” – Robert Quillen

“Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.” – Zig Ziglar

“Sometimes a very expensive life lesson can be worth every penny.” – Noel Whittaker

“If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know and start charging for it.” – Kim Garst

“I just sit in my office and read all day.” – Warren Buffett

“Understanding both the power of compound interest and the difficulty of getting it is the heart and soul of understanding a lot of things.” – Charlie Munger

“The four most expensive words in the English language are, ‘This time it’s different.’” – Sir John Templeton

“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” – Warren Buffett

“Good and evil increase at compound interest. That's why the little decisions we make every day are of infinite importance.” – C. S. Lewis

“It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.” – Warren Buffett

“There’s always a way if you look hard enough.” – Noel Whittaker

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

“The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.” – Warren Buffett

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When faced with misfortune, most people are quick to lash out at others. Yet, high achievers know that it’s not laying blame that leads to success—it’s proudly taking ownership of every aspect of your life.

These 10 questions will empower you to rise in almost any situation, allowing you to reset your energy, prepare actionable plans, and advance with stronger resilience than ever before.

1. What’s the gift in this? 

Understanding this has been one of the most profound turning points in my life. Incredible stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall prove that there’s a gift in every adversity … you just have to find it. While a challenging skill to master in the moment, dig deep and you’ll find a little comfort in even the most difficult hardship. Mastery of resilience is the foundation of the growth mindset and what keeps high performers focused when others give up.

2. What am I grateful for?

Numerous studies, including this one from UC Berkeley, have shown that people who use a regular gratitude practice are happier. When you’re focused on positive energy, it shifts your focus from resentment and envy to abundance, improving everything from personal relationships to career success. If you’re new to gratitude, grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal—it’s what I use personally and is truly lifechanging. Also, schedule a weekly calendar reminder to send good vibes—whether a message, phone call or email—to someone whose efforts and support you appreciate. 

3. What do I truly want?

If you’re working a job you hate, or spending too much time helping someone else achieve their goals, perhaps it’s time you restored balance into the equation and thought about what you wanted. Readers of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy might recall the greatest turning point in Sandy Gallagher’s career was when she realized her entire life had been about making someone else—her father—happy. As she transitioned toward forging her own path, Sandy found that she was not only happier and more fulfilled in her new career, she was able to positively impact far more people, too.

4. Why am I doing this?

As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When you’re clear on why you do what you do, whether an individual or a company, it allows you to persist through adversity, attract a tribe of people excited in your mission, and remain constantly alert for resources that will help you on your journey—the ultimate pathway to finding your how. 

5. What am I willing to sacrifice each day? 

In a world of instant gratification, buck the trend of demanding it now and, instead, proudly put in the work. This is a fundamental step emphasized repeatedly in Think and Grow Rich and the process of autosuggestion. With your most important goals, write down the specific actions you’ll take—the price you’re willing to pay—to make them a reality. You’ll find that the level of success you achieve is in direct proportion to the consistent effort you take. 

6. What three biggest distractors can I eliminate? 

Audit your time each day for one week so you can easily pinpoint where you’re knocked off course. (Even simple things such as deleting time-wasting apps, switching your phone to airplane mode for regular blocks, and removing clutter, can all make a massive difference to your daily productivity.) Next, look around your living and working environments. If they don’t motivate you to go the extra mile each day, make some changes. In my office, I have a huge print that says “ACTION: The difference between having and wanting” reminding me of the importance of sustained effort. Surround yourself with inspiration. 

7. Who am I spending the most time with? 

Your energy source is the most important part of your life and should be insulated from sabotage at all costs. Surround yourself with people who think positive, dream big, and align with your values—those demonstrated in the top-right corner of the Friendship-Success Quadrant (below). You’ll find your energy levels increase tenfold as a result. This is the power of the mastermind and the one attribute that has made the most significant difference in my own life. Once you’ve found the right people, use this to turbocharge your success.

8. What mental health practices have I got scheduled?

Paradoxically, we often reserve our love and kindness for others, and then engage in negative self-talk when we’re alone—it’s certainly a weakness of mine. Rob Dyrdek introduced me to Dr George Pratt, the clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist who Rob credits as changing his life. George helped me to be more aware of negative self-talk and gave me some exercises that I now have scheduled in my calendar every week to keep focused, relaxed and happy. Here’s a short one you can try. Don’t just make time for your mental health, schedule it. 

9. What would it look like if it were easy? 

As part of human nature, and only enhanced in the digital age, we often massively overthink and overcomplicate situations. Sometimes, taking a step back and giving ourselves a mental reset to ponder “What would this look like if it were easy?” can be the quickest way to an acceptable solution, saving valuable time and energy in the process. 

10. In December 2019, reflecting on the year just gone, what 3-5 things happened that made me the happiest?

The end of the calendar year is a good reference point for how your life is progressing. If you’re unable to answer this question quickly, fill out the Success Plan (template). Feel the emotions of having already attained those 3-5 things, then make sure you’ve got a detailed plan—with regular action items scheduled—built into your weekly calendar so imagination becomes reality. High performers all have systems to optimize their success.

Through a calm demeanor and an inquisitive mind, the best way forward is always revealed. Remember, you are the only problem you will ever have and YOU are the only solution.

Take actions today that your future self will thank you for. After all, the right question could save your life.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The One Number that Doesn’t Matter’

PS – Join my VIP newsletter AND get a free bonus from Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy (instant download).

“Miss a meal, but don’t miss a book.”

Jim Rohn

This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.

Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people on the planet, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought and unprecedented motivationwhen we need it most. In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

For the time-poor, or those with reading difficulties, audiobooks are the perfect way to consume massive knowledge in a short timeframe. For portability, and to easily retain a summary of your highlighted passages, ebooks can’t be beat. For a well-rated classic, or something you want to revisit time and time again, there’s no substitute for a hardcover, which is also far more personal than gifting a digital product.

Welcome to my first annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. 

Best for Motivation:

Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world. The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.

Want a signed copy? Signed copies with free worldwide shipping are available for USD $25 or AUD $30 per copy. Remember to email us with at least two weeks’ notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders – email for more info. (Unsigned copies are also available on Amazon.)


Best for Resilience:

Defiant by Janine Shepherd

If you’ve read or watched Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with Janine Shepherd. Her remarkable story is the best personification of resilience and tenacity that I’ve ever seen.

Defiant is a comprehensive account of a champion athlete having her entire life ripped away by a freak accident, before summoning the courage to continue and pursue a gold medal in the sport of life. I finished this book in two sittings, then called Janine to tell her how amazing it was! Highly recommended. 


Best for Entrepreneurs:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I’ve always been a fan of Nike, and Shoe Dog is a warts-and-all account of founding one of the world’s most recognized companies and navigating all the perils along the way. Often, with global brands, we forget that the business all started as a simple thought impulse. Knight traveled around the world looking for inspiration, battling the market leaders (and even the US Government) and setting up distribution channels.

His philanthropic values, entrepreneurial spirit and uncanny resourcefulness make this an excellent gift for aspiring entrepreneurs with lofty goals. 


Best for Gratitude:

The 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as Daily Stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset. To me, it’s been truly lifechanging and is the book I gift the most.

(If you’re on Instagram, I want to follow you too! Just send me a message or email with your username so I can keep track.)


Best for Professionals:

Chief Maker by Greg Layton

This book is written for middle level managers looking to equip themselves with the skills and mindset to not only secure a C-level role but thrive.

In addition to a unique background—think living with Shaolin Monks in China, running ultra-marathons, and coaching world champion athletes—Greg has become a close personal friend. He compiled his firsthand research with true changemakers into his 5-step ‘GREAT Method’ asthe ultimate career progression handbook. Better yet, Chief Maker is FREE as part of a Christmas promotion.


Best for Personal Branding:

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

We all know the importance of having mentors regardless of what life stage we’re in, but too many people are focused on trying to find one in real life. The most influential people of all time—from Marcus Aurelius to Jeff Bezos—turned to the written word for inspiration, and you can do the same. In 2012, when I lived in Boston and was at a career crossroads, Gary Vee’s books were enormously influential.

Crushing It is his latest book and will help entrepreneurs and professionals, as well as those looking for a profitable side hustle, monetize their passion and package their talents for success in the digital age.


Timeless Classics:

The following three books are timeless classics and will be on my bookshelf forever:

Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A handwritten card or letter to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten the world and illuminate your spirit.

I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The Path to Greatness’

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