The Secret to Getting Rich May Surprise You

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Unscripted" by MJ DeMarco. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What’s the secret to getting rich? Where should you channel your energy if you want to build serious wealth?

There isn’t really a secret to getting rich. You get rich by creating value, and you create value by solving problems and catering to the needs of people. Therefore, if you want to get rich, you should reorient your focus from making money to creating value.

Here’s why you can’t create wealth without creating value.

How to Get Rich: Create Value

What is the secret to getting rich? According to MJ DeMarco, the author of Unscripted, the secret to getting rich is creating value. The state of your finances is directly tied to the amount of value you create. Because you don’t understand that massive wealth depends on creating massive value, you waste your time pursuing activities that create little to no value and offer no chance of generating wealth—for example, by switching to jobs that pay more or jumping from one get-rich-quick business to another. 

(Shortform note: If you’re unsure how to distinguish between low-value and high-value activities, Josh Kaufman (The Personal MBA) offers useful advice. He says that we find value in products and services that fulfill five basic needs: to feel good about ourselves, to connect with others, to grow and learn, to feel safe, and to avoid effort. Further, the authors of Business Model Generation claim that your product or service is more likely to be perceived as valuable if, in addition to fulfilling a need, it differentiates itself from what’s already on the market. Therefore, if you’re working on a unique product or service that effectively fulfills one of these five needs, you’re creating value.)

Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Mindset: Solve Problems to Provide Value

Overcome this belief and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset by switching your focus from chasing money to providing value. DeMarco explains that people only see value in things that solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Therefore, the wealth you generate can only reflect the amount of value that you provide to others.

To create value, he suggests that you examine your skills, knowledge, or assets and think about how they can benefit others. Ask yourself questions such as, “What problems or inconveniences can I resolve?” or, “How can I improve upon products or services that I already use?” Answering these questions will help you align your skills and abilities with valuable money-making opportunities.

(Shortform note: What kinds of problems should you try to resolve? Sales experts recommend looking for inconveniences that customers face throughout both their experience with an existing business and their experience with specific products and services. Come up with as many ideas as you can to solve these problems. For example, one business noticed that consumers are reluctant to buy electric fryers because deep-fried food is unhealthy and the machines are difficult to clean. The company transformed the problem into a solution by creating Actifry, a machine that creates tasty fries with only one tablespoon of oil. Actifry converted a problem into revenue totaling $1 billion by addressing customer concerns.)

The Secret to Getting Rich May Surprise You

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  • Why the only way to achieve financial success is to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Eight beliefs about money that prevent you from achieving wealth
  • Actionable ways to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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