secrets_of_millionaire_moms

Secrets of Millionaire Moms

Learn How They Turned Great Ideas Into Booming Businesses

On the road to $1M rating:

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They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and the saying applies literally to Tamara Monosoff’s Secrets of Millionaire Moms: if you can look beyond the shabby cover and the flat, black-and-white inside layout -betraying that the book was originally published in ebook format- you will be pleasantly surprised.

Monosoff draws on her own experience as an entrepreneur and those of 17 other women -all of whom decided to turn their ideas into start-ups and eventually grew them into multimillion-dollar companies- to illustrate the steps needed to create, manage, and grow a business.

The first original aspect of the book is that all the profiled entrepreneurs are women, many of them in their 50’s and beyond -while I think it’s safe to say that the typical image of a self-made, millionaire entrepreneur would be that of a man. And there is a further catch: as the book title suggests, all these women have kids, and have had to work hard at achieving the elusive work-life balance, coming up with ingenious ideas to be able to enjoy their children while they worked hard on their businesses.

The fact that the book focuses on moms doesn’t make it any less of a business book. Apart from a chapter about juggling family and business, all the topics covered are of prime interest to anybody considering starting their own venture: how to turn your life-fantasy into a workable business plan, the importance of understanding the finances, how to raise capital, administer assets, or manage employees.

I think that most readers would define Secrets of Millionaire Moms as female-oriented. Being told from a female perspective, it often touches on issues that are typically considered of more interest to women. For instance, references abound to the internal critic that continuously reminds you of the reasons you can’t do something -it’s usually assumed that this nefarious inner voice is more commonly a problem for women, although I suspect that many men will be acquainted with it too. There’s also a discussion of the guilt factor from being away from your kids which, if the readership of blogs on the topic is anything to go by, is also of greater concern to women than men.

This is not to suggest that men won’t find the book useful and enjoyable. The times when a man could -and would want to- spend all his life working while leaving his wife to take care of the household and the family are long gone. Men entrepreneurs will at some point in their lives come across the difficulty of juggling work with family life, and the fact that a business book tackles this topic head on should be welcomed as a refreshing novelty, in step with modern times.

In the end, the book is extremely inspiring without lacking realism: while it continuously underlines the importance of believing in yourself, it doesn’t hide that being an entrepreneur can sometimes be difficult -you may have to spend birthdays away from your kids, have money troubles, feel anxious and stressed, or be obliged to fire employees. The ultimate message, however, is a positive one. All interviewees agree that the sacrifices they made were worthwhile, and more than compensated by the gains in terms of flexibility, outlets for their creativity, and financial independence.

I loved reading a business book written by a woman who was able to achieve her dreams through hard work. While I cannot stress enough that both male and female readers will enjoy the book, it’s still harder for us women to find entrepreneur role models. Thanks to Secrets of Millionaire Moms, I’ve found several to add to my list.

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double your income

Double Your Income Doing What You Love:

Raymond Aaron’s Guide to Power Mentoring

On the road to $1M rating:

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The title of Raymond Aaron’s book is misleading. I thought it would discuss strategies to turn your hobby or passion into a profitable business. Instead, it deals with how to set goals and strategies to achieve them -whether the goal is to double your income, give more to charity, or improve your relationship with your spouse, is up to you.

The book introduces a method to systematically analyze your life and set up goals related to different aspects of it -family, work, personal fulfillment. Then you have to work on those goals. Aaron suggests different strategies to help you put a stop to procrastination and start taking steps -however small- in the right direction.

If you’ve read Brian Tracy’s Goals! -or, for that matter, any other book on goal setting or beating procrastination- my summary of Double Your Income may sound familiar. Indeed, the two books share not only the overall theme -how to achieve your goals- but also many of the specific advices -goals should be written down to increase accountability, overwhelming tasks become doable when broken into small steps, etc.

So what’s the unique proposition behind Double Your Income? Unfortunately, the book’s selling point is what I liked least about it: according to Aaron, his method is inspired by the Law of Attraction.

If you’ve seen my post on the Law of Attraction and the ensuing discussion, you know that my main objection to it is the way it presents otherwise sensible ideas wrapped up in a mixture of pop-psychology and mysticism. I agree that clearly defining and thinking about our goals makes us more likely to take a first step and eventually achieve a better life. But I don’t agree this is because thinking about our goals sets the Universe in motion to deliver what we really desire and deserve.

Aaron, however, is a firm proponent of the Law. Every single paragraph of Double Your Income had me cringing with notions such as the following:

  • The Law of Attraction holds the secret to “achieve your goals effortlessly”.

  • It is essential to phrase statements in the positive for the Universe to “deliver [what we] really desire”. Conversely, by making negative statements -and therefore “invoking the Law of Attraction badly”- we become doomed to receive things we don’t want.

  • There is “spiritual proof that you have a life mission”.

I don’t understand the need to contaminate ideas that make perfect sense by themselves with simplistic pictures of a Universe that will deliver our dreams just by the power of positive thought -or, as Aaron puts it, automagically. Let’s be honest: success won’t come without effort. And “the Universe” won’t decide our fate based on our positive or negative attitude -we achieve things not by tweaking our life outlook but through simple hard work.

There’s one more thing I disliked about Double Your Income: every two pages you’re directed to Aaron’s website for complementary material. Once there, you’re asked to provide your email address before you can see the content. Soon afterwards you receive the first email asking you to sign up for Aaron’s expensive 17-month mentor program. This left me wondering whether the book was no more than an elaborate sales letter.

Because of my misgivings, I cannot strongly recommend the book despite all the useful, common-sense techniques it teaches to help define your goals and work on them. Nevertheless, if you’re a Law of Attraction devotee or can cut through all the mystical mumbo-jumbo, you may actually enjoy it. In either case, I’d love to hear your opinion of it -if you’ve read the book, you can leave a comment here.

The Law of Attraction: a Way to Success or Plain B.S.?

I’m currently reading Raymond Aaron’s Double Your Income Doing What You Love. I was drawn to the book by its title, assuming it would talk about how to turn your hobby into a productive source of income. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Aaron is a co-author of a couple of books from the Chicken Soup series, and a coach devoted to guide his clients “on a path that supports the Law of Atraction”. Uh-oh, the LofA word was being mentioned on the very first page of the book.

So what’s this Law of Atraction that I find so scary? According to Wikipedia, it “says people’s thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of their lives, whether or not they’re aware of it. Essentially ‘if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it’, but putting a lot of attention and thought onto something you don’t want means you’ll probably get that too”.

law of attraction

If you really want and believe in something, you'll get it.

The above definition encapsulates what I like least about the Law of Attraction: it says that you’re responsible for what you get in life, both good and bad things. So you’re wealthy and enjoying the life of your dreams? According to the Law of Attraction, you deserve it because that’s what you’ve been focusing your thoughts on. The flip side is the alarming one: You’re poor and sick, and have just been fired from your job? Well, according to the Law of Attraction that must be your fault, too. You may not have realized it, but these are the negative outcomes you’ve been subconsciously entertaining in your mind.

Now, I wouldn’t have anything to say against the Law of Attraction if there was any evidence that what it claims is true. If it were an adequate description of reality, I’d just have to put up with it and try my best not to harbor any negative thought. However, don’t be fooled by what the Law of Attraction’s proponents may tell you -Raymond Aaron goes as far as to say that this is a “proven method”-, there is not only not a piece of scientific evidence to support their claims, but there are plenty to refute it.

Let’s start with Julie Norem’s book, The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking. Dr. Norem, a professor of psychology at Wellesley College, draws on the results of her research [references below] to claim that whether you tend to have positive or negative thoughts is partly determined by your personality. While less anxious people are more likely to have an optimistic approach to life, many anxious types manage their anxiety through a strategy called Defensive Pessimism, whereby the knowledge that they’re prepared for the worst-case scenario allows them to approach threatening tasks without fear and do their best.

According to Dr. Norem, these pessimistic individuals not only “have harnessed the power of their negative thinking to increase their self-esteem and make significant progress toward their personal goals”, but, even more importantly, “many people perform more poorly when forced to think positive, since negative thinking is often an effective strategy for managing anxiety”.

There are particular cases in which the Law of Attraction can be particularly harmful. While concentrating on positive outcomes with the hope to attract wealth is a harmless activity -at most you’ll end disappointed if you fail to win the lottery-, what about those who believe their thoughts may be responsible for their illnesses? What about a person who feels understandably down after being diagnosed with cancer and is unable to shake the fear that, if only they could concentrate on positive thoughts, maybe their illness would be cured?

Plenty of scientific studies show positive thinking is at best useless in affecting cancer survival rates or disease progression [link to US News. More references below]. But every couple of weeks we hear stories in the media about people who supposedly were miraculously cured by the power of positive thinking -disregarding the effect this could have on patients who blame themselves for not being able to reach the mental state that will allow them to beat the illness.

In view of all this evidence, why can coaches on the Law of Attraction continue to defend the success of their methods? They claim to have many satisfied clients. Unfortunately for those who’re not so happy with the results, it’d be virtually impossible to prove the Law of Attraction wrong: whenever a client perceives an improvement in their life, this will be attributed to the success of the Law. Whenever they perceive no change, it’ll be their failure at mastering enough positive thoughts. It’s a win-win situation for those Law-of-attraction gurus!

I hope it’s clear by now how important it is to view the Law of Attraction in a critical light. It may be true that thinking of something we want takes us closer to it, but this will be due to our having clarified our goals and taken action, rather than to the whole universe conspiring to reward our positive thoughts.

At the same time, there are things in life that unfortunately lie beyond our control. Blaming bad thoughts for people’s lack of wealth, loss of jobs, illnesses, and every single negative event in their lives is, at best, simplistic -at worst, it can lead an individual to mental illness or despair.

So do keep striving for improvement, but also maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. Remember, the ultimate goal is not success at all costs, but success accompanied by a minimal level of sanity.

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REFERENCES:
Coine, James, and others (2007) Emotional well-being does not predict survival in head and neck cancer patients In: Cancer

Norem, Julie and Edward C. Chang (2002) The positive psychology of negative thinking In: Journal of Clinical Psychology

Rittenberg, Cynthia N. (1995) Positive thinking: An unfair burden for cancer patients? In: Supportive Care in Cancer