If you want to make more money than average, you need to see it as a side effect of success, not an end goal. Whatever entrepreneurial projects you may have lined up for the upcoming year, know that 2021 is going to be a very challenging 12 months.
The International Monetary Fund expects the economy to shrink this year, and the world GDP to lose 6.5 points. These times are unprecedented, worst than the 2008 financial crisis.
In spite of all this, I’m not the pessimistic kind, and I still believe that just like making it in 2020 was still possible (with a lot of work and a bit of luck), making it in 2021 will be just as manageable. To support my claim, I put together a list of 5 books to help you make more money in 2021.
This list is not made of your classic “wake up at 5am, hustle and make a million bucks” type of books. Rather, the recommendations I picked will help you spot opportunities you might have not thought about, that were hiding in plain sight. They will also show you the best processes to adopt once you start your journey. One specific book even explains what not to do when trying to make a ton of money.
1. Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think — by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
A bit of optimism goes a long way, especially in these dark times. In Abundance, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler look at all the positive projects happening in the world right now, contributing to fixing some of the biggest problems of the century:
- Global warming
- Education for all
- World hunger
- Extreme poverty
- Global access to computers and the internet
Diamandis and Kotler also talk about what they’re betting their money on: technologies and areas of our modern world they think will blow up exponentially in the next few years and decades (3D printing for instance).
Their work is backed up by a ton of research, and they also know what they’re talking about. Steven Kotler is an award-winning science writer, and Peter Diamandis is a multi-millionaire tech entrepreneur who founded the Xprize Foundation and the Zero Gravity Corporation, amongst other projects.
2. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World — by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
This is the sequel to the book mentioned above, and it’s just as much a great source of motivation and inspiration. Diamandis and Kotler explain how to bring your crazy idea to life through 3 main chapters:
1. How to capitalise on exponential technologies
Things like 3D printing, cryptocurrency, space travel…
2. How to think crazy big
Here, Diamandis reflects on everything he learned from his entrepreneurial journey and building 15 companies.
3. The power of crowd funding
Nowadays, crowdfunding goes way beyond a simple Kickstarter campaign. Diamandis explains how he leveraged the power of the crowd to send a rocket to space, and how you can create your own competitions and events to 10x your idea.
If you already have your big idea, you’ll love the 2 parts on thinking crazy big and using the power of the crowd. If you’re still looking for your entrepreneurial journey, the list of exponential technologies in the first chapter will give you a ton of inspiration.
3. Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Fall of WeWork — by Reeves Wiedeman
I put this book in the list because it’s also important to read about what NOT to do when starting a company. It’s easy to get carried away, blindsided by a sometimes disproportionate need for money. This book is about just that. It chronicles the rise and fall of Alan Neuwmann, the founder of the most famous real estate leasing company in the world: WeWork.
Neumann founded the company almost 10 years ago, and grew it into a Unicorn (a startup valued at $1 billion+) using hyperbolic pitch decks, unrealistic revenue projections, and most of all, hundreds of millions pumped into the company by external investors. He used the money to finance his lavish lifestyle more than for the greater good of the company. At one point, he owned 5 houses while most of WeWork’s employees were getting paid entry-level salaries.
Adam ended up being forced to go public, meaning put his company on the stock market through an IPO (Initial Public Offering). That’s when the problems started. To be listed on the stock market, you first need to prove that your company is legit. When came the time to reveal the real numbers, WeWork’s valuation fell from almost $50 billion to $2.7 billion. Adam Neumann’s net worth dropped from $14 billion to $400 million, with a latest update at $200 million.
I recommend this story because it’s a good reminder of how far growth gone wrong can go. For the past 10 to 20 years, Silicon Valley has been all about pumping cash into overvalued start-ups, with only a handful of real winners, some of them still failing to turn a profit while their CEOs remain billionaires. The economy is at a turning point, and it’s important we learn from our mistakes. Hopefully people will look at the WeWork story (and all the other ones) in a few decades and wonder: “How could this ever have happened? This is pure madness.”
Note: for another story on growth gone wrong, I recommend Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.
4. Rework — by David Hansson and Jason Fried
With the world pandemic, millions of people who were lucky enough to keep their job had to make the switch to a fully remote framework. We now have 100% of our meetings online, hang out with colleagues after work on Zoom, and do all our work from the place we live in everyday. This switch was meant to happen over the long term, but with coronavirus, we all got catapulted into the future way faster than we had anticipated.
Rework is a book about working remote that came out in 2010, a decade before the pandemic. It was written by the 2 founders of Basecamp, a company that has been fully remote (zero physical offices) since 1999. Talk about forward thinking.
Basecamp is fully bootstrapped, entirely remote, does not need enormous cash infusions, and they’re doing amazing. They have over 2 million paying customers and $25 million in ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). They got where they are today with a slow growth process, as little meetings as possible, and all the sleep the teams needed. A refreshing point of view on entrepreneurship.
Note: I also recommend an interview of the 2 authors in which they took part last year, at the peak of the first world lockdown.
5. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business — by Charles Duhigg
This book is great because it looks at success stories both from a company level (with multiple people and teams) and from the individual level. Duhigg has the exact same approach he used in his previous book, The Power of Habit (also a great read). He is excellent at presenting complex scientific studies and numbers (about neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics…) and breaking them down into simple, digestible chapters for the reader:
- Goal setting
- Managing others
- Decision making
- Absorbing data
Some of the advice contained in this book won’t apply to the new normal we now live in due to the pandemic (things like office organisation, team gatherings…). Regardless, this book is an amazing resource, and I highly recommend it. Plus, it contains a ton of inspirational examples and case studies from some of the biggest and most praised companies in the world: Google, AirFrance, General Electric…
Thanks a lot for reading! I interviewed 50 productivity/business experts and made a 150+ page guide out of the project. This is road-tested advice from real people who get things done. Get it for free here.