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Rich Like Them by Ryan D’Agostino

Posted By Jim On 01/11/2009 @ 8:39 am In Reviews | 4 Comments

Those of you who have read some of older book reviews may know that I’m a sucker for books that go “behind the scenes” of someone’s life or the machinations of a profession. It’s what drew me to Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard [3] (which showed you a bit of how the homeless live), Full of Bull by Stephen McClellan [4] (which showed you the thriving BS trade in the stock market), and many other books. Well, Rich Like Them [3] is another one of those books and this time it seeks to guide you in a path towards riches based on interviews with rich people.

Ryan D’Agostino went door to door, interviewing the people who lived in the wealthiest zip codes in the United States. Think of it like the Millionaire Next Door of our decade and unbelievably more interesting. While the Millionaire Next Door talked about some of the ideas the rich believe in, such as frugality, and was very valuable in its own right, Rich Like Them is very different. It teaches business and prosperity lessons gleaned from the experiences of millionaires and these lessons are valuable whether you’re a cog in a corporate wheel or the CEO him or herself.

Luck Doesn’t Exist

Chapter Two is titled “Luck Doesn’t Exist” and it discusses how there’s no such thing as being “lucky and how you can make your own breaks. The chapter begins by talking about Derek Jeter, shortstop for the New York Yankees, and D’Agostino’s disdain for him (he’s a Red Sox fan). The story talks about the play Jeter made in 2004 when he launched himself into the stands to catch a foul ball. The play was remarkable because Jeter made the catch and emerged from the stands bleeding from his face. The idea behind the story was that the play typified Jeter’s character, 100% effort all the time, and that aspect of his character allowed him to take full advantage of any “lucky breaks” he did get. Whether it’s spring training or a playoff game, Jeter was 100%.

However, D’Agostino never spoke to Jeter, that was just the chapter setup. The person he did talk to was Bob Grosnoff, who lived in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, AZ, Zip Code 85253 and the 63rd richest zip code in the United States. Grosnoff had built his fortune in the finance field in the late 1960s and onward, at a time when the financial world was in turmoil as it is today. Rather than try to win clients by trading in the stock market, he offered short-term municipal debt as an alternative to certificates of deposit. On a five million dollar trade, he’s get 28% of a $250 commission. His fellow traders scoffed at him spending all that time making low commission trades but they didn’t know Grosnoff’s strategy. He would win over clients by safely earning them 7.5% on tax-advantaged municipal debt and, when they wanted to trade equities again, he’d have their trust to execute the much larger commission trades. It took several years but the strategy worked and the high net worth clients turned Grosnoff into a high net worth individual. It’s like Derek Jeter chasing down foul balls in spring training (and now we know about it thanks to D’Agostino’s pavement pounding).

Final Thoughts

I haven’t finished the book yet but I’m certain I will, I love reading stories about the lives of others and how they were able to succeed in this world. There’s no doubt that Bob Grosnoff was a smart guy, but he didn’t do anything that no one else could. There are very few that have the athletic prowess of Derek Jeter and there are very few, especially in finances, with the foresight of Bob Grosnoff, but anyone could’ve physically done what Grosnoff did. That’s what I think this book is all about – learning the lessons of prosperity that anyone can do, as long as they know.

My recommendation is that you get this book, either from the bookstore or at the library, and read it. D’Agostino did a lot of hard work, walking door to door, to collect all this information and it’s a treasure trove of insight you don’t want to miss. Will you get rich by reading it? No, of course not, but it’ll give you some high level insight that you probably will find value in.


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[3] Those of you who have read some of older book reviews may know that I’m a sucker for books that go “behind the scenes” of someone’s life or the machinations of a profession. It’s what drew me to Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/amazon.php?asin=0316021466

[4] Full of Bull by Stephen McClellan: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/review-full-of-bull-by-stephen-t-mcclellan.html

Thank you for reading!