“Rich Like Them,” by Ryan D’Agostino
The sign said “Open Today!” and you couldn’t resist. So, what possessed you to go through a for-sale house that you could never afford?
Curiosity, sure. But maybe it was a little bit of what-iffing that led you to peek into cavernous closets and run your fingers over marble baths, rare-wood mantles and imported countertops.
What if? What would it be like to live there? To have money like that. Author Ryan D’Agostino wondered the same thing, and in his new book, “Rich Like Them”, he knocked on a few doors – literally – and asked.
Whenever he and his wife went out of town, Ryan D’Agostino says they made a point of taking walks into luxurious neighborhoods. They loved looking at the immaculate grounds and imagining the lives of those who lived there.
One day, curiosity got the better of D’Agostino, an editor at Esquire magazine. He purchased a list of the 100 wealthiest ZIP codes in the U.S., based on median household income, net worth and home value. Then, with his trusty reporter’s notebook in his pocket and comfortable shoes on his feet, he stepped into some of the richest enclaves in America.
Not everyone agreed to speak to him. D’Agostino says he was sometimes met with silence, and security guards often turned him aside. But when he found people who would talk, he learned lessons of a lifetime.
Always – always – keep your eyes on your goal, even when on vacation. Never miss a chance for opportunity. Remember that you have to see the dots to connect them. Follow through with your connections. Understand that there are risks in everything, study the risk before leaping and know that sometimes, doing nothing is a risk itself. Stick to your plans, but know when something isn’t working. Never let failure be an option. Remember that you can’t do business with yourself. Work hard, and if you look forward to going to work, that’s even better. Be humble.
What a refreshing business book!
Author Ryan D’Agostino took a simple concept (find people with money and ask them how they got it) and created something that seems like a blueprint for wealth, not only of the monetary kind, but of that for the soul.
I was struck by several things here: first, in this wacky world, that D’Agostino found so many people who invited him, a stranger, into their fabulous homes.
Secondly, he often steps aside to let stories speak for themselves. The titles of the mini-chapters practically beg you to read further, and D’Agostino is quick to refresh your memory if he refers to someone from another chapter.
Thirdly, I loved how D’Agostino conveyed a sense of contentment. While almost every one of the subjects in this book admitted to working hard, they all seemed so Zen-like with their lives now. Just reading these stories inspired me.
If you’re ready for a new start in the New Year, pick up this book and get energized. “Rich Like Them” is filled with a wealth of great motivation for you.
“The Urban Hermit,” by Sam MacDonald
Every year, it’s the same old thing: you make New Year’s resolutions at midnight on January first, and they’re broken by noon the same day.
So, what was it this year? Save money? Lose weight? Or, here’s a good one: start eating healthier. Like that’s going to happen with leftover Christmas cookies around, huh?
This year, though, you’ve vowed to change. You’ve got more resolve now than ever and you’re going to do what you’ve vowed to do.
First, though, read “The Urban Hermit,” by Sam MacDonald. Are you desperate enough to put yourself on a starvation diet of many kinds?
It was early 2000, and Sam MacDonald was in trouble. He had borrowed money from his parents too many times, and while they were willing to hand over the cash, MacDonald wasn’t comfortable taking it any more. Credit card calls were stacking up on the answering machine, MacDonald’s car was choking out its last cough and a bill from the IRS had just hit his mailbox.
As thin as his wallet was, MacDonald himself was just the opposite. Weighing in at a guesstimated 340 pounds, he was so large that he couldn’t zip a mummy sleeping bag around his middle.
The two problems were tied: MacDonald’s evenings were spent at a local watering hole, and beer wasn’t free. Neither was bar food. As his wallet got thinner, MacDonald got fatter. Something had to be done.
Sam MacDonald put himself on a “strange and dangerous plan,” which he called “The Urban Hermit.” He would stick with an austere, 800-calorie-a-day diet, consisting only of lentils, cheese, bread, eggs, cabbage and cheap tuna, spending as little money as possible (about $8 a week), while squirreling away the rest for bill-paying.
The Urban Hermit was only supposed to last for a few weeks.
But, one thing led to another, including two choice journalistic assignments, one in Bosnia and one at a hippie festival, both for which MacDonald needed money, requiring more debt. Then, the car died. The Urban Hermit stayed, and as MacDonald watched his debt shrink, he noticed that his waistline did, too. Precariously so.
I had definite mixed feelings about “The Urban Hermit.” While it very closely resembles a wild, one-man slacker movie with lots of laughs, and while it was a fun read, I asked myself too often if there was a point to some of the things author Sam MacDonald wrote into his story.
It seemed that his self-imposed abstinence (the subject of the book) was sometimes secondary to all the other events he was writing about. Once he got around to updating his weight loss, it was almost a toss off, like it wasn’t important at all.
Also, alas, while the body of this book runs like a kindergartner on a sugar high, it ends with an empty tank.
If you’re in a spot where your New Year’s resolution is do-or-die, “The Urban Hermit” will make you laugh out loud while you’re suffering. If you’re not a fresh-start kind of person though, promise yourself a different book.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.