The author was being somewhat ironic when he chose the title of this book. If ever people needed to understand that wealth does not bring you happiness, this book conveys that message as well as any.
This book was recommended to me by a client of mine who is a driven, ambitious young entrepreneur, who has been through a challenging period recently and told me that the brutal honest in this book about how unfulfilling chasing success can be, really resonated with him.
The amazing thing is that the author Bartlett learned this lesson before he was 30 years old. To digress for a moment, when I started coaching business leaders, some 17 years ago, my first US client was a fabulously wealthy 50-year-old man, who told me in our first session that he was depressed even though the previous week he had just profited US$10 million from the sale of one of his businesses.
As we recounted his career, he remembered starting out ‘close to broke’ with not much more than a dream to make a million dollars, then when started getting close to making his first $1 million, he thought to himself ‘the taxman is going to take a big chunk of it, so I will actually need to earn $2 million’. Then a couple of years later as he approached $2 million, he was getting married and thought that he would have 2 children so decided he needed $5 million. Then a few years later they decided to have a third and then a fourth child so he had increased his target to $10 million, this went on and on until unfulfilled and depressed he came to realise that no amount of money would make him fulfilled, only the pursuit of a purpose greater than yourself can do this, whether that is being a business owner, a parent, a teacher or a factory worker.
Most people think that if they are successful and earn a big pile of cash, that they are going to feel differently, and that life is going to be all lollipops and rainbows. For Bartlett to understand that this is not the case some 20 years before my financially wealthy client did is amazing. In my experience, it is a realisation that many people never achieve as they are always chasing the dream that success will lead to greater fulfilment.
His story very much supports 2 pathways for successful people, one path which is built on personal fulfilment and the other one that is not.
Bartlett is an incredibly successful young businessman who you may be familiar with if you watch the U.K. TV series Dragons Den (like Shark Tank in the USA) where Bartlett is the youngest ever investor on the show’s exclusive multi-millionaire investor panel.
At 21 years old, Bartlett dropped out of University after just one lecture to start his own business, he was so broke that he would look for lost change down the back of restaurant chairs to get enough money to feed himself. At this point he started his own Social Media Marketing business with just a laptop, leading him to co-found ‘Social Chain’ in 2014 with his equally poor flat mate Dominic McGregor. By 2019 at 27 years old Bartlett was a multimillionaire with his business valued in the hundreds of millions of pounds.
The book is full of real-life accounts of working ridiculous numbers of hours to get his business off the ground at great cost to his personal relationships and to his mental and physical health.
The author is brutally honest about his journey, it would be fair to say that he bares his soul and talks about ‘the shit side of being successful’.
Bartlett provides many of his own pearls of wisdom throughout his book. He explains that to be the best in a given roles in a given business sector, you only need to be reasonably good at the right collection of complementary skills for that role.
Bartlett talks about how annoying he found it when after he delivered a talk at an event that a young guy from the audience approached him and asked him ‘What 3 things he would recommend he do to become a successful speaker like him.’ Bartlett was annoyed that the guy appeared to be looking for a short cut to success and he explains that his philosophy, that I strongly agree with, is that you need to put yourself out there over a period of time and try and make a difference and make things happen. After you do this, then you will have something to talk about that people want to listen to.
Interestingly, for me Bartlett’s book does provide 3 takeaways that stand out above the many others, that will hold true for anyone, which are all at the heart of my own philosophy:
1-Live authentically and be true to yourself no matter what you do.
2- Operating from a foundation of fulfilment is only the path worth taking to lasting success.
3-Always find time to take honest reflection on yourself and where you are at.