Book Review: The Millionaire Zone by Jennifer Openshaw
The word "millionaire" has always conjured up images of the good life---sitting by the pool sipping margaritas, having our driver Charles bring the car around for our Sunday drive in the country. Of course a million hasn't really bought you this life since the days of The Great Gatsby, but nevertheless few of us would turn our noses up at being millionaires. Given the negative savings rates in this country, a million dollars is still significant wealth to most of us, and a goal worth pursuing. Financial writer and successful entrepreneur Jennifer Openshaw's new book The Millionare Zone aims to get us there.
While The Millionaire Zone is subtitled "Seven Winning Steps to a Seven Figure Fortune," I'd submit that the book preaches that there's really only one step that matters: working for yourself. While some of the advice here is directed to those still working for The Man, the message is that you'll rarely get rich on someone else's payroll. The Millionaire Zone's seven steps, therefore, are really about how to start your own business and make the serious money that millionaires enjoy. I could quibble with some of the Seven Steps---not so much the advice but the gimmick of forcing the advice into a seven-step framework. What's the difference between "Wiring your LifeNet" and tapping into your "Home Zone" again? It's not always clear. But this is how books are sold; they know you're more likely to buy if you believe that you can follow a step-by-step formula versus just getting a lot of great advice. So I won't quibble---I'll just tell you where the great advice lies.
Openshaw's bedrock advice is to consistently look to your LifeNet for support, ideas, and contacts as you pursue success. Initially I scoffed at the term LifeNet as just a new way to talk about networking, but the word "networking" tends to mean mostly those you've exchanged business cards with, while Openshaw's LifeNet is more about tapping into everyone you know, even those---or especially those---in your family and friends who can help you or who know someone who can.
Few of us ever take the time to really sit down and think about all the people who are close to us or who have been close to us in the past, and think about what they do, who they know, and how they might be able to help us. After all, if the people who know and love you the most won't give you a hand, who will? I liked the idea of diagramming out your network, and of not being afraid to simply come out and ask if anyone knows how to buy an investment property, or has a contact in retail wholesaling, or is familiar with the ins and outs of buying advertising, etc.
Openshaw's advice on expanding then working within your comfort zone is also solid. We all want to stay in our comfort zone, so it's often helpful to expand your comfort zone to maximize opportunities, and to start new ventures that are related to what you already know or are passionate about. After all, it's easier for a software developer to start a software consulting business than it is for that software developer to own a NASCAR racing team.
There is also some good advice here about figuring out if the ideas you have are the basis for a multimillion dollar company or simply ideas for an interesting hobby, and then how to push forward the winning ideas.
Some of the advice is clunkier. "Turning Rejection Into Opportunity" sounds good, but the examples here don't so much show how to exploit a rejection for gain as much as they simply tell you to keep trying and your opportunities will come. (Although to be fair those opportunities sometimes come via references from the same people that rejected you earlier.)
Openshaw provides profiles of both the super-rich and the much more modestly rich in illustrating her ideas. For me, the profiles of outrageously successful people like Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs could have been left out in favor of more from the smaller scale (yet still very lucrative) success stories that Openshaw cites throughout the book. Trying to compare ourselves to larger-than-life business titans can be intimidating and might stop us from even taking the first step, thinking we could never be like them. But telling us about the divorced mother who used past job experience to start a human resources consulting firm is more likely to get us to say "I could do that."
In the end, getting you to say "I can do it" is what The Millionaire Zone is all about, and it definitely accomplishes that goal. If you're looking for the motivation to make a serious financial change in your life, The Millionaire Zone will give you the kick in the pants you need.
Published 09/07/10 (Modified 01/20/13)