What are you reading?
“The Ten Roads to Riches, by Ken Fisher. Also, 50 Prosperity Classics, by Tom Butler-Bowdon. And Seinology, by Tim Delaney.”
Tell me about them.
“Ken Fisher is one of Forbes’ 400 richest guys in the country. He runs an investment firm up in Silicon Valley. The book is just basically telling about how people get money to invest in the first place — it’s based on his clients over the past...I don’t know, 30 or 40 years. One way is to inherit, another is to marry into it. Or you can start a company or become a CEO. I’ve always thought of starting a company; I just need to figure out what to do — how to do it. I’ve got to find some little niche — maybe inventing something, having someone else sell it. He writes that it’s better to compose songs than to sing them — the composer makes more money and doesn’t wear himself out touring and performing. But the way to make the most money is to start and build a successful company.
“50 Prosperity Classics is basically a collection of book reviews, giving a taste of the best inspirational books on business and success. One of them is Conrad Hilton’s Be My Guest — it’s an old one, my father had a copy in his den. It’s the rags-to-riches story of the man who built the Hilton Hotel empire, starting out with one old hotel during the Great Depression. Seinology is by a sociology professor. It just talks about a lot of sociological concepts as they are demonstrated by the show Seinfeld. There’s a chapter on group dynamics — if you have a group of two and a third person comes along, it changes the dynamic, that sort of thing. I found it long on recounting episodes and short on teaching sociology.”
Compare them to other books you’ve read.
“There really isn’t anything.”
What book has been most life-changing for you?
“I’m still looking for that book. I’m having a hell of a time figuring out where I fit in this world and how I’m going to make a good living. A lot of these kinds of books just give me hope, and that’s all I’m looking for right now. Just something to get me through the day. I want to be wealthy because you never know what’s going to happen to you. You could be hit by a bus and crippled — I don’t have health insurance right now. I have nothing. These books reinforce that it is possible — other people have done it. Just don’t give up — think positive. People do it in many different ways.”
Who are your favorite authors?
“I would maybe say Ken Fisher. This is the second book of his that I’m reading right now. He’s giving me hope.”
What magazines or newspapers do you read?
“The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, The Economist.”
How many articles do you read to the end?
“Maybe a third or a fourth. I get through the table of contents, see what’s of interest to me.”
Do you talk to your friends about what you read?
“Sometimes, yeah. Mainly we talk about economics and the economy. I’ve got a friend; he and his wife are trying to start a software company. But it’s a bad time to try to enter the market right now, and a lot of this has to do with timing. We’re in a bear market now, and I think we’re looking at another three to five years before things in improve. It’ll get worse before it gets better.”
Name: Stephen Berg | Age: 37 | Occupation: currently unemployed
Neighborhood: UTC | Where interviewed: Hazard Center Barnes & Noble