Think and Grow Rich – a PhD student’s review

In his book “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill summarizes the traits shared by rich people.

The author worked on this book with an assignment by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. The latter one wanted to find the secret of getting rich and assigned Napoleon Hill to find out. Hill spent 20 years interviewing the most wealthy people of his time to find out what they have in common. This book was the result.

book "Think and Grow Rich" lying on wooden desk
My quite old German version of “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

What is “Think and Grow Rich” about?

With the book’s development in mind, you might expect a book with lots of interviews put loosely together. Quite the contrary is the case. The author structures his insights well and he uses examples only now and then to add some color. Meanwhile, he proposes thirteen steps as wealth’s foundation:

1. Craving

You should nurture your wish to become rich until you start craving riches and wealth. Then you will automatically prioritize this goal and it will keep you going.

2. Belief

You have to build your belief that you can make it.

3. Autosuggestion

To avoid a conflict between your conscious mind and your conscience, use autosuggestion to align them.

4. Skills

Extend your skills and your knowledge. Learn something new and you will learn do things you cannot do at the moment.

5. Imagination

Use your imagination. This will enable you to see opportunities, other people miss.

6. Organised Planning

Get to know yourself: What’s your current state? Where do you start? Which obstacles will probably occur? How can they be avoided?

7. Decision

Make your decision. And stick to it.

8. Stamina

Tiny steps will add up over time. Rome wasn’t build in one day, either.

9. Find Experts

Cooperate with other people: Help them with their weaknesses. Then you can learn from them and maybe they help you with your weaknesses.

10. Transformation of Sexual Drive

This chapter mainly states, that it’s useful to transform your sexual drive and make it productive. Unfortunately, it does not explain how to do this. It’s also mentioned that even successful people start mastering this in their forties. Maybe I’m still to young to get it 😛

11. Subconsciousness

When your using your subconsciousness, it will not only work on unsolved problem even when do not intend to. It will also help you getting back on track.

12. Mind

This short chapter starts out with a weird description of telepathy. My personal interpretation is that it describes effects of tuning your nonverbal communication.

13. Sixth Sense

Imagine how other successful people would have solved the challenges you’re facing at the moment.

Why is the book worth reading?

It’s worth reading, because it’s a classic when in comes to financial self-determination. While the title suggests, that the book is about getting rich, its principles describe how to succeed with your goals in general. It’s well written and easy to read.

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Mindset – a PhD student’s review

What is the book about?

book "Mindset" lying on wooden desk.
The book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck

This book by Carol Dweck is about mindsets and how they affect your life. Basically, it differs between “fixed” and the “growth” mindset and illustrates how each one defines your actions, especially your handling of mistakes.

The fixed mindset can be really bad and it’s very common. Society unfortunately nurtures this mindset: Good results which did not need any effort are prefered to good results for which you had to work your ass off. The problem is you don’t learn from your mistakes and might even hide them.

The growth mindset is the opposite: You place your focus on the effort, not the results. That way, you embrace the mistakes you make, learn from them and stay flexible. Also, you see mistakes not as stains on your ego, but as possilibties to learn.

Why is “Mindset” worth reading?

This book changes the way you perceive yourself: My key learning was, that one can have both mindsets at the same time:

  • I enjoy sewing very much is due to a growth mindset: I seek difficult project, which I can only manage when accepting imperfection.
  • I frequently got stuck in fixed mindset when it came to my PhD project. The fear of failing and not being good enough was often paralizing. Now, after realising this, I’m able to advance.

Probably, you also have both mindsets at the same time. This book can help you realise which part of your life is governed by which mindset. It also describes, how you can shift your mindset from “fixed” to “growth”.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Kopf schlägt Kapital (German) – a PhD student’s review

book "Kopf schlägt Kapital"
The book „Kopf schlägt Kapital“ by Günter Faltin. It describes how rethinking a business concept can lead to a successful, innovative business.

This post on books worth reading features Günter Faltin’s Kopf schlägt Kapital, which means Mind beats Capital in English.

What is the book Kopf schlägt Kapital about?

The book’s title summarizes the key statement: One possibility to start a business is collecting lots of capital to invest. A preferable alternative is starting with an idea and reducing it to its key features. Which (costly) parts can be omitted and which parts are necessary? Can you change something about the unique value proposition, your business offers?

One example business, Teekampagne (translation: tea campaign) is used throughout the book. It sells tea in large bags instead of tea bags. They started with only one kind of tea, omitted vendors. This lowered the price and they can offer the highest qualities of tea. For their kickoff, they collected orders until the order was big enough to buy directly from the producer. This “campaign” motivated the name and also served as a proof-of-concept.

Other examples for innovative business concepts are part of this book and describe how to systematically improve your business concept.

So, why is this book worth reading?

The examples in this book encourage to start a business – is shows, that there are lots of possibilities to start a business even if you don’t have lots of capital. It’s easier than you would expect to reach order quantities, which make you eligible for bulk discounts.


The 4-hour workweek – a PhD student’s review

book "The 4 hour workweek" in German, lying on a desk wit other stuff
German version of the 4-Hour Workweek: Post-its indicate stuff I have to read again

The book “The 4-hour workweek” written by Timothy Ferris is a classic when it comes to achieving freedom to do what you want to do.

What’s the book about?

The book is about finding a muse business that allows you to spend your time with fulfilling activities. Timothy Ferris describes possible steps to build such a business which pays off enough so you only spend four hours per week with inconvenient work. It is subdivided into four parts, i.e.

  1. Where do you want to be? (Definition)
  2. What’s not only unnecessary, but hindering on the way there? (Elimination)
  3. What can be done by computers and machines? (Automation)
  4. How to leave behind the old life? (Liberation)

Each part describes one step, ideally taken in this order. For example, every task you do not eliminate (part 2) will cost you time or money when you have to automate it (part 3).

Why is it worth reading?

In addition to the contents described above, the big advantage of this book is that it includes exercises and challenges for personal development. Thus it guides the reader on the way to become the kind of person, which is able to live by his own standards. In the progress of reading, the focus steadily shifts towards special techniques or software solutions which you might find helpful for your 4-hour business.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – a PhD student’s review

The first post on books worth reading features Daniel Kahneman‘s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

book "Thinking, Fast And Slow"
The featured book

What is Thinking, Fast and Slow  about?

Thinking, Fast and Slow summarizes the main research results of its author. He investigated how the human mind works, especially when it comes to imperfections during decision-making.

In the beginning the short descriptions of the so-called system 1 (responsible for fast, effortless thinking) and system 2 (responsible for concentrated and effortful thinking) are introduced. Kahneman also describes some triggers he found for those systems (apparently, blood glucose levels influence the availability of system 2).

The remaining parts do not have such a defined topic as the first part. They focus on prediction fallacies, different biases and the heuristics  which leading there. There are also chapters discussing the differences between Homo economicus and Homo sapiens: For example, for a Homo economicus, the risk aversion does not depend on the prospect of gain or loss. For us as real humans, it is important: Facing a potential loss, we tend to be risk seeking and facing a potential gain, we tend to be risk averse.

The book closes with a print of the original scientific papers. To be honest: I did not read those 80 pages because the small printing made reading quite tiring 😉

So, why is this book worth reading?

This book can change the way how you perceive other people and their actions.  Example tasks show how everybody is prone to biases and imperfect decision-making. If you read of all of those cognitive shortcuts and flaws, you hopefully will be less judging towards the people around you.