“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” ― Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

It’s interesting to look back at the past five years. Almost five years ago to the date, I sat in my boss’s office, learning of some scary news that some of our company’s clients were asking for price reductions. The threat to our company’s finances was apparent when my boss told me we’d be letting go of three full time people because of it.

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This event started a four year journey of determination to build up a better financial position for myself. If I would have been one of those three people let go, I would have faced some series issues. I had a bank account balance of around $1,500 at the time and a debt balance of almost $20,000. My cash would have lasted me a month at most. I imagined the desperation I would have felt in that possibility. I find the quote above by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones quite interesting. Are we really the same people we were five years ago except for the books we’ve read and the people we’ve met? Let’s assume Mr. Jones really figured things out and identified a truth here and take a dive into this using my own example:

The Books I’ve Read in the Past 5 Years

  1. The Total Money Makeover – by Dave Ramsey
  2. Eat that Frog – by Brian Tracy
  3. E-Myth Revisited – by Michael E. Gerber
  4. Linchpin – by Seth Godin
  5. QBQ (The Question Behind the Question) – by John G. Miller
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – by Stephen R. Covey
  7. Rich Dad Poor Dad – by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  8. The Four Hour Work Week – by Tim Ferris
  9. The Art of Non-Conformity – by Chris Guillebeau
  10. Choose Yourself – by James Altucher

And the list goes on. Don’t worry, I’ve read a few books outside of the business genre as well. Did these books shape who I am and what I’ve done? Definitely. The Total Money Makeover shaped my attitudes on debt. Dave Ramsey, in my opinion, is the most convincing person out there on telling you why you should shed your debt. Reading his book (and listening to his podcast) convinced me to get out of debt as fast as I possibly could. I went to some crazy extremes to do it too, like cutting my lifestyle to the bare bones and sending all extra cash to my debt for several years straight.

Rich Dad Poor Dad shaped my financial perspective greatly. I’d highly recommend this book to those looking to better understand how the rich think, compared to most of the rest of us. My main takeaway from the book is to buy (or create) assets with my money, instead of liabilities (that most of us often think are assets). To learn the difference, reading this book is a good idea.

The more managerial books like Eat that Frog, QBQ, E-Myth and The 7 Habits, helped shape my career success significantly. Eat that Frog helped me get organized and start making lists at work. QBQ taught me to consider what I can do to be personally accountable and solve problems on my own, instead of just complaining. E-Myth got me thinking about developing systems at work to ensure quality and scalability. The 7 Habits helped me better understand what habits can help contribute to personal and professional success.

Recently, over the past year or two, I’ve gotten into more of what I call niche business/entrepreneurial books. These are books like The Four Hour Work Week, Linchpin, The Art of Non-Conformity and Choose Yourself. Although two of these (4 Hour Work Week and Linchpin) can be found in just about every Barnes and Noble in the country, The Art of Non-Conformity and Choose Yourself probably aren’t in any of them. I still consider them all niche as they discuss some completely different ways of thinking. Like Chris Guillebeau has coined, these books are a bit unconventional.

And so started my unconventional thinking. These authors out there were writing about how success is achievable in such unconventional ways.

Today, most of these niche books (and in many cases podcasts) are typically found on the author’s own blog, on iTunes as podcasts or on Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com as e-books. Things are really changing, even just in the past five years.

The People I’ve Met in the Past 5 Years

Obviously, I can’t list all the people I have met in the past five years here. I can break them down into categories of people I suppose (even though I don’t like to generalize):

  • Work colleagues and business partners/clients (at my full time job)
  • Bloggers, podcasters, authors and entrepreneurs (from the personal finance/online business world)
  • People in my personal life, such as friends and friends of friends and new family members (like my nephews)

Have these people shaped my life? I’d have to say that those closest to me that I’ve met such as my nephews and girlfriend have shaped me the most. Coming in second are the people I look up to and learn from out there who either have done what I want to do or are doing it now. People we meet obviously leave lasting impressions and are a huge part of who we are now, let alone who we become.

All in all, I believe Mr. Jones is on to something with his claim. But, ultimately, I think there’s more to each of us than only the books we read and the people we meet. I think there’s an internal and spiritual part of us that changes. Sure, it may result from these two things, but then again, it may not.

What do you guys think? What’s shapes us into who we are as the years pass other than the books we read and the people we meet?

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