"Imagine a life where all your time is spent on the things you want to do."

Over the past 5 years, reading has become a big priority and passion of mine.  One goal on my current trip is to read at least one book every two weeks.  And although I didn’t expect this initially, I’m finding many of my conversations with travelers and locals revolve around books.  Whether I’m sitting in a hostel in Galway, meeting founders of a London start-up, or having late night drinks in Lithuania, I’m finding a common thread — books have the power to bring people together and change lives.

And since I love sharing the message of books that positively influence my life, I thought it would be fitting to start a bi-weekly post where I summarize and give my favorite take-aways from the books I read.  I’ll try to keep it unbiased and informational so you can make the decision if the book is one you’d appreciate reading.

Although I’m open to reading almost anything, most of the books I read fall into these genres:  business, entrepreneurship, technology, lifestyle design, human behavior, travel & culture, finance & investing, and economics.  But the underlying theme is more basic: they’re thought-provoking and encourage personal growth.

I like to encourage the people I care about to read books that promote personal growth and constant reflection.  However, I realize that these books have little to do with my travels.  And if you signed up for my email list to follow my journey,  you may care less about the books I read.  For this reason, I’m going to keep a separate email list for books.

This new list will be for people who love to read or want to read more, are constantly looking for good books in the genres above, and are intellectually curious.  But there’s no hard feelings if you’re not interested — I realize this isn’t for everyone.  BUT if this does interest you and you sign up, I have a special gift for you.

I’m giving away 5 copies of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, the first book I review.  If you sign up, you’ll be entered to win one of these 5 books.  I’ll select the winners at random.  But you must sign up by this Friday, August 3 @ 6pm ET to be entered to win a book.  But, there’s more…

Since I really want to build a community of people who really love to read and discuss influential books, if you spread the love and tell other people to sign up, your name will be entered again each time you get someone to sign up.

Sign up here: GiveLiveExplore Influential Books Mailing List


The first book I review is The 100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.


Using his own business as a blueprint, as well as another 50+ examples around the world, Chris Guillebeau shows how to create a lifestyle of freedom that’s fulfilling and financially sustainable.

About The Author, Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau is an entrepreneur, traveler and writer.  On his website, The Art of Non-Conformity, he encourages people to live remarkable, unconventional lives.  He started his blog to document his mission to visit every country in the world before his 35th birthday, but it has evolved to provide inspiration and lessons in business, creating art, and living a fulfilling life.

Who Should Read This

  • Anyone who dreams of designing a lifestyle where work revolves around their life, and not the other way around.
  • Anyone looking to create more financial security for themselves by building a side business or restructuring their career.
  • Anyone who has a business idea or niche skill, but needs a kick in the ass to start acting on it.
  • Anyone who already owns a microbusiness, but needs fresh ideas to help it grow.
  • Anyone specifically interested in building a business around online products and services, including self-publishing.

 Who Shouldn’t Read This

  • Anyone content in their work and who wake up most days excited.  You’ve already figured out how to incorporate your passions and skills into your work.
  • Anyone who has achieved freedom of time and location.  Many of the concepts will be repetitive since you’ve already achieved a lifestyle of freedom.
  • Anyone not interested in running their own microbusiness.  Although the business concepts are applicable even if you work for someone else, the underlying theme discusses working for yourself.
  • Anyone looking to get rich quickly.  This book won’t help you find the ‘next big thing.’  It may help you become more financially secure, but not without hard work and dedication.
  • Anyone who enjoys or needs the security that your current job provides.  The concepts in the book won’t identify with the lifestyle you want.
  • Anyone looking for advice on building a tech startup.  There are many technology-based businesses profiled in the book, but most weren’t created with the goal of scaling, raising millions in funding, and selling to a Facebook or Google.


Since I follow Chris’s blog and have read other inspiring books on business and lifestyle design like The Four-Hour Work Week, there were less ‘Aha!’ moments than I hoped.

Although the book chronicles over 50 examples of people creating their own freedom, the meat of the book and the blueprints provided come from Chris’s firsthand experience, which is mostly focused on selling products online and building an online following.  It may be tough to relate to if this avenue differs vastly from the way you envision achieving freedom.

Thirteen Take-Aways

1. When brainstorming business ideas, use the principle of Convergence.

"Convergence represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both) and what other people are also interested in."

2.  Building a business structured around your desired lifestyle is possible.

Although it may seem like a pipe dream to most people working in corporate jobs, Chris shows this is possible.  He identifies 1,500 individuals like himself who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a small initial investment (hence the $100 Startup title).  Most microbusinesses earn at least $50,000 a year in net income and have fewer than five employees.

3. When you make business about helping others, you’ll have plenty of work.

"When you get stuck, ask yourself: How can I give more value? Or more simply: How can I help my customers more?"

4. It’s more powerful to talk about the emotional benefits your business will provide to its customers, not just the features of your product or service.

"Most people want more of some things (love, money, attention) and less of other things (stress, anxiety, debt). Always focus on what you can add or take away to improve someone's life."

5. Give people the fish.

“Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a day” is a powerful concept, but it’s terrible business advice.  Businesses exist because sometimes people just want to eat the fish.

6. Follow your passion, but only if you can identify a market for what you can offer.

"...you usually don't get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or for something indirectly related to it."

7. Effective marketing is based on invitation, not persuasion.

"Most of us like to buy, but we don't like to be sold...compelling offers often create an illusion that a purchase is an invitation, not a pitch."

8. Planning is overrated — have a bias for action.  Most of the case studies had a common thread of getting started quickly first before extensive planning.

"There's nothing wrong with planning, but you can spend a lifetime making a plan that never turns into action. In a battle between planning and action, action wins."

9.  Avoid your customer’s immediate pang of anxiety from a purchase by immediately over delivering.

"You'll want to get out in front of this feeling by making people feel good about the action they just took...give them more than they expected. You can do this by upgrading their purchase unexpectedly by sending a handwritten thank-you card in the mail or in whatever way makes the most sense for your business. The point is that the small things count."

10. Chris provides several comprehensive checklists and planning tools to help build your business.  Examples include Six Steps to Getting Started Right Now, the One-Page Partnership Agreement, and the Thirty-Nine-Step Product Launch Checklist.

11. Be a hustler, not a charlatan or a martyr.

"A charlatan is all talk, with nothing to back up their claims.

A martyr is all action with plenty of good work to talk about, but remains unable or unwilling to do the talking.

A hustler represents the ideal combination: work and talk fused together."

12. Incorporate a “Strategic Giving Marketing Plan” by giving freely.

"It's not about keeping score or trading favors on a quid pro quo basis; it's about genuinely caring and trying to improve someone else's life whenever you can...Strategic giving is about being genuinely, truly helpful without the thought of a potential payback."

13. You don’t need anyone’s permission to pursue a dream.  Stop waiting and begin.  Now.

How This Resonates With Me

I admire Chris.  With his passion for travel, business, and following your dream, he has inspired me to take my sabbatical and continually remember the importance of working on your life, rather than just in it.  The lifestyle of freedom he’s achieved is impressive and has proven it’s possible by showing the way.  This is a lifestyle I continue to strive for, and I’m happy to have Chris as an example to emulate.

Interested in reading the $100 Startup?  It's available on Amazon: The 100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

Full Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. I only recommend books or services I use personally and would genuinely suggest to my closest friends.


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