SILICON VALLEY, CA. – Competition is fierce in the business world. Education is seen as the ticket to success. Yet it is said that 85 percent of U.S. college graduates won’t find a job even with their diplomas, and they will wind up living with Mommy and Daddy again. You’re either too old, not the right color, under-experienced, over-qualified or just plain in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maybe you didn’t get into Harvard, Yale or Cal Tech. Maybe Stanford University didn’t want you to sit amongst the American and global elite. If so, how can you get the edge in the business world? Gurus can help. I refer to them as “gurus to-go” because you can take them with you anywhere you travel. While driving in the car during your extreme commute, on your iPod via a podcast or through your iPhone, streaming various lessons can provide both an edge and a confidence boost.

Enter one of my favorite superstar coaches and self-help gurus – Tai Lopez. Mr. Lopez is busy teaching his faithful followers about the art of business mentorship. Yet he is my favorite for one reason alone: He believes reading books is the key to opening new worlds for every individual.

According to the Huffington Post, Lopez’s appeal rests in his ability to inspire:

“… A widely popular investor, entrepreneur and adviser, [Lopez] has amassed a loyal following of startup entrepreneurs, businessmen and just those seeking a bit of direction in their lives. He has successfully achieved this after suffering some initial failures and a stint in finance as a certified financing planner, by starting one of the world’s largest book clubs. And by cleverly refining himself as a source of inspiration and valuable content, something he describes as VRIN – value, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable.

“By reaching 1.4 million people across 40 countries and supplementing this with YouTube podcasts and inspirational talks and videos, it is rather clear that Tai, who tries to read a new book every day, has been able to create value for readers, provide a unique perspective on life, jump ahead of competitors, and become a main source of information that cannot be found elsewhere.”

One of his key points about finding success is his notion that each of us should be reading books that inspire us. As a devotee of Lopez’s, I’ve followed his advice to the letter. One of the books I’ve read in the past year is “Power & Greed,” by Philippe Gigantes. It’s an excellent work deconstructing two very different types of men who have shaped the world. There are the “Great Law Givers” like Moses, Jesus Christ and Solon. In ancient Greece, Salon came up with the notion of the voluntary revocation of power. We see his idea enacted during the peaceful transition of power in between the terms of U.S. presidents. (Although they seem to becoming increasingly broken and hostile, as witnessed by the whole, “lock up the witch” movement during the 2016 election cycle.)

On the other side of the coin are barbarians like Genghis Kahn, Attila the Hun and similar “Grand Acquisitors” who raped and pillaged their way across the ancient world. For those who believe in the “fairness” enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount, the Magna Carta, Gettysburg Address, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the reality is that despite our best efforts and better angelic selves, there is no “invisible hand of fairness” waiting in the wings to make our lives work out in the way we’d like them to.

Instead, there is only Genghis Kahn. That is the brutal nature of man. The street fight people circle around in grade school. That is human nature. Through his epic tome, Gigantes, who fought in the Korean War and was actually a prisoner of war inside North Korea, has shown us a basic truth. Gigantes’ book helped to shape my life and worldview. Had I not become an adherent of Lopez, I would have missed it!

Continues the Huffington Post;

“It is rare to hear of one that so avidly promotes the concept of book reading and absorbing the wisdom of mentors as a source of inspiration. Tai, who grew up poor with a single mother, decided that in order to become a better and more successful person, it would be best to learn from those that succeeded beforehand. He set off to travel around the world seeking advice and tips from the world’s best minds, what would form the basis of his successful series – ‘The 67 steps.'”

In past decades, there was a unique reading program in the U.S. called, “Reading is Fundamental.” With the rise of electronic devises, Netflix and social media, along with artificial intelligence and audio books, some might be forgiven for thinking that traditional book reading is on the wane. Yet the tenets exposed by Lopez seem to run concurrent to that postmodern trend. For example, even Hillary Clinton had to apologize when she criticized former first lady Laura Bush about her erstwhile work as a librarian.

Comedian Jay Leno joked that there was no harder job in the world than teaching former U.S. President George W. Bush how to read. Bush read a book about democracy written by Israeli-Russian refusenik Natan Sharansky. Because of that book, Bush embarked upon his (failed) democracy crusade in the Middle East. This writer sometimes wondered, if Bush had read a book about Gumby, would we all be riding around on an orange horse named Pokey?

Silliness aside, the point is that books can still change the world. And the books read by world leaders can have a tremendous impact on the direction of the world. Obama was seen reading a book about a post-American world order. For better or worse, this was a harbinger of both his world view and the broad strategic architecture of his Presidency.

As a follower of Lopez on Twitter, I was deeply moved by his Tweets saying, “Never, ever be surprised by what envious people will say about your success.” This was augmented by, “For better or worse, money flows to those who speak its language. It is a language not taught in most schools.”

Once again, referring to the aforementioned Huffington Post piece:

“According to Lopez, rather than posting another filtered image of your last meal, those seeking to succeed in business and in life should focus on creating content that is interesting, unique and is truly representative of their values. In today’s competitive market, users are interested in hearing from people and companies that provide content with real value and substance, knowledge that can impact the way they lead their lives and/or run their business.”

Here in Silicon Valley, where data is the new petroleum, I often have the chance to discuss Lopez’s insights with those at Stanford University, Google, Apple, Samsung, Tesla and other elite companies.

Another book I have enjoyed reading – thanks to Lopez’s inspiration – is “Over the Edge of the World” by Lawrence Begreen. It’s the story of Magellan’s amazing circumnavigation of the globe. This was done without the aid of satellite GPS. Can you imagine navigating the Straits of Magellan between Argentina and Antarctica? Magellan faced a mutiny in South America, which he put down in ruthless fashion. Imagine sailing from Cape Horn to the Philippine Islands without hitting any of the islands in between. Imagine the fear, excitement and bravery. Named for King Philip, little did the locals know that the Spanish Empire, U.S. Empire and Japanese Empire would also be arriving over the ensuing centuries.

In the Philippines, Magellan was murdered by the local tribes, whom he sought to convert to Christianity. So Magellan never actually made it around the world. A journalist-monk, Pigafetta, did make back to Europe, as did Enrique, Magellan’s slave. This truly epic journey reminds us of the quest each of us faces for Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs via “self-actualization.” This along with the challenges and opportunities offered to us by Lopez and his steady, heady and uplifting insights. Reading Pigafetta’s journal is the type of activity Lopez might actually enthusiastically recommend.

My own guru to-go, Maddie, a woman from Rockville Center, Long Island, once called me in St. Louis, Missouri. She had gone to the military cemetery on Long Island to visit the graves of her departed and beloved parents. During that trip, she literally tripped of the graves of my own mother and father. What were the odds? As she was my guru, I felt this was prophetic. During that phone call, Maddie once again relayed to me the three pillars of success in life.

First, when anything blessed comes directly from God, it’s easy. Second, learn to let go of the things and the people that no longer serve you. Third, there are no victims; there are only volunteers.

While it is true that only the Supreme Being’s opinion of you really matters, each of us would like to be loved, respected, admired and feared by our peers, allies and adversaries. Mr. Lopez is the type of guru who can help make such a notion a reality. Imagine if his mantra about reading books became a de facto reality.

Do you know how many Americans are functionally illiterate? How many men and women languishing in America’s prisons can’t read? (And how many didn’t have strong moral role models as fathers?) More than 70 percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a fourth-grade level.” More than 30 million Americans are illiterate, and at least 20 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a fourth-grade level. This article entitled “11 Facts about Literacy in America” is a shocking eye-opener. According to the article, 66 percent of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. How many Americans have never read the Bible or the documents written by our Founding Fathers?

Lopez is right: Reading is fundamental. If every American would make a commitment to teach one person how to read, or would themselves read one book a month, our nation might be transformed in radically and wonderfully new ways.



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