Forget The Last Tycoons, Too Big To Fail, Griftopia, The Devil's Casino, The End of Wall Street, and the rest of the 1,001 books trying to cash in by regurgitating what happened leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. We all know what went down -- and we're over it. It's time to move on. That is, it's time to start figuring out where our next seven-figure paychecks will come from. And so, to that lucrative end, here's where we should start: with the Best Nonrequired Summer Reading for Future Billionaires of America. (As always, I recommend reading within spitting distance of the sea, while double-fisting hand-blended cocktails infused with freshly-muddled fruit; a sprig of mint, or two, is up to you).
In this mission statement of sorts, the investing guru behind PIMCO puts forth his reasons why kids should consider dropping out of college and starting their own businesses. Gross, who, along with being able to pick a solid security, can grow a mustache with the best of them (as you can see at left), writes, "Students can no longer assume that a four year degree will be the golden ticket to a good job in a global economy that cares little for their social networking skills and more about what their labor is worth on the global marketplace." He also writes, "The high tech paragons of the 21st century -- Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook et al. -- never were employers of high school or B.A. college graduates in significant numbers."
2. "Principles," by Bridgewater Associates CEO Ray Dalio
Whether or not you believe Dalio has more in common with a Branch Davidian than a titan on Wall Street, you have to admit that the man knows how to invest -- and make money. Dalio, the founder and CEO of the world's largest hedge fund, personally made nearly $4 billion last year, and his funds made billions more. This year he's still making money (his funds are on the rise), while other big hitters (such as Paulson & Co.) are getting hammered. This should tell you that you need to, at the very least, peruse Ray's "Principles," all 122 pages of which are available for free via Bridgewater's website. In them, Ray not only doles out what makes a successful company and employee (he stresses radical openness and honesty and believes egos/pride need to be killed in order for an institution to operate at its most efficient), he also speaks about his past, how he came to be where he is today (rolling in money), and what he's learned along the way -- which Ray believes (as do I) can help you get to where you want to be as well.
3. "A Dirty Business: New York City’s top prosecutor takes on Wall Street crime," by George Packer
Although this article, in the latest issue of The New Yorker, does not rehash the financial crisis, it does rehash the infamous Raj Rajaratnam insider trading trial, in which Raj, the billionaire hedge fund investor, was found guilty on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy. If you're saying, I know all about the case, I followed every darn wire-tap and giggle, then consider this article nonrequired for these two reasons: (1) To ingrain into the money-making part of your skull not to do what Raj Raj did; and (2) To read the extremely contemptuous, expletive-filled email that Raj's defense attorney John Dowd fired off to a Wall Street Journal reporter during the trial.
Gladwell, the author of Blink and The Tipping Point and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, outlines in Outliers what it takes not just to hit a few home runs, but how to tear the leather off the ball. Hint: it has something to do with the "10,000 hour rule," a healthy helping of luck, and a set of circumstances that cultivate greatness -- and might not have all that much to do with things like passion, talent, and hard work. Exhibit A in Gladwell's book is none other than Bill "College Dropout" Gates.
Now in his 80s, Pickens, the billionaire and brilliant businessman and current proponent of alternative energy, entertains as well as instructs in The First Billion. He also gives some personal details to allow readers to get a sense of where the billionaire came from. For example, at the beginning of chapter one, entitled "Blood, Guts and Feathers," T. Boone says he's been a risk taker since he was born. He writes, "Even my birth was a do-or-die proposition." Then he goes on to describe how his mother was having problems during labor, and the doctor who was enlisted to deliver T. Boone pulled his father aside and said, "You can save your wife or your baby, but not both." Papa T. Boone refused to choose ("he wasn't an either/or sort of guy"). And what went down was this: the hospital's, and the doctor's, first C-section. Which was a success.
Originally published in 1937, TAGR is perhaps the most well-known and best-selling book about success ever written. Hill's masterpiece was inspired by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and borrows the success philosophies of Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Schwab, Thomas Edison, and many other monumental inventors, statesmen, and businessmen. At the core of Hill's treatise is this: to succeed in anything, whether business, moneymaking, or otherwise, you must have a crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve, down to every last fine detail. According to Hill, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Also attributed to Hill are these quotes: "Big pay and little responsibility are circumstances seldom found together"; "Education comes from within, you get it by struggle and effort and thought"; "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness"; and "Money without brains is always dangerous."
(Related: Bridgewater Associates Is Not a Cult, It's the Future, Bridgewater's Ray Dalio: Cult Leader or Profit Prophet?)