Some people dream of getting rich. Instead of dreaming, W. Randall Jones, author of The Richest Man In Town, set out to talk to the richest person in each of the 100 U.S. towns he visited for his study to see what commonalities he could find. From these interviews he found 12 attributes that ran rich within these mostly self-made magnates. Apparently, while God could get by with 10 commandments, the rich need a dozen; thus the subtitle, The Twelve Commandments of Wealth.

Let's get those 12 on the table first (I paraphrase)-

  • Don't seek money for money's sake
  • Find your perfect niche
  • Be your own boss
  • Get addicted to ambition
  • Be early
  • Execute or get executed
  • Fail so you can succeed
  • Location doesn't matter
  • Don't compromise your morals
  • Embrace selling
  • Learn from the best and the worst
  • Never retire

I have the last one nailed.


Book after book about wealth and entrepenuership seem to boil down to these same points, usually derived from the same inductive reasoning that seems to underlie this book; watch what rich people do, then figure out the principles behind their success. What is missing, imho is the study of failed businesspeople. I often wonder if, for every multimillionaire that followed these commandments, there might not be a hundred who followed them yet failed. Everyone talks to the winners, but until you study the losers, it's hard to know which commandments are the important ones.

Although the "secrets of the millionaires" genre is well mined, Jones does a particularly deft job of weaving the stories of a hundred people within the commandments structure. His many years of experience as a writer and founder of Wealth magazine are evident in the book's engaging storytelling and brisk pacing. Many writers of similar books have taken the easier person-by-person approach,

which gives the reader more of the personality of the people interviewed but obscures the insights that the readers seek. Kudos to Jones for taking the hard road.

He also manages to land some very colorful subjects to interview, such as Hartley Peavey of Meridian, Miss. who told him "I believe that life is a test to see how much BS you can take." Ron Rice of Daytona Beach was fired from six teaching jobs in eight years. Phil Ruffin of Wichita wants his tombstone to read, "This is his last real estate deal."

For readers who are curious about how the richest man (Jones is apologetic about the use of the word man, but sadly, the richest person in most towns is one) in town came by his fortune, this book may well be best in class. And these commandments leave you free to covet all you want.


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