The Millionaire Fastlane Summary

book cover of the millionaire fastlane by mj demarco

Why read this

  • To understand why a normal 9-17, 5 days per week job for 2 days of freedom is not a good trade;
  • To understand why a normal 9-17 job is riskier in the long run than owning your business and why it is the smartest personal decision you can do
  • To get a simple summary of the main points about the path to a free of money-worries life.

Why listen to the author

  • He is the founder and former CEO of Limos.com, a global ground transportation company;
  • He has been called the “Get Rich Slow” anti-guru, because he’s called out financial gurus for pitching slow, safe financial methods while building their brands and finances by taking “The Fastlane.”

Reviews

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The Millionaire Fastlane – Book Summary

by André D. Ferreira

Reading time: ~20min.

Is Normality Good For You?

Most people go about their lives in the “normal” way — earning good grades, getting a job, living life averagely or saving to be rich when they’re older. To have some degree of success in this normal way you’ll need to be good at what you do, and for that you need to invest a lot of time. But how can you enjoy life if you don’t have time for it? When you’re saving for a better future, hoping to enjoy life latter, then by that time you’re too old to fully enjoy the wealth saved…

“Normal is to slave at a job Monday through Friday, save 10%, and repeat for 50 years. You’re conditioned to accept normal based on society’s already corrupted definition of wealth, and because of it, normal itself is corrupted. Normal is modern-day slavery. (…) Normal is condemnation to mediocrity.” — MJ deMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane

Like the previous quote, the first chapters have sentences that should touch a nerve in most people. Of all the books I’ve read, this is one of those that made me think most often “This is exactly how I feel.” Those things mostly concern how it’s perceived as normal to have a job and work for someone else, and so on.

Some people celebrate Friday nights because they represent their temporary end from a modern-day slavery workweek. People work 5 days to receive 2 days of freedom. Any trade of giving 5 to receive 2 would be a bad trade, so why on Earth do people accept this trade so easily? If you work for someone else, that’s exactly how it will most likely be for the rest of your life. Of course if you love your job, then those 5 days of working may not be that bad of a deal, but you still might not be able to do other things you love. Hating 5 days to enjoy 2 is a bad deal however you look a it.

Take four years of very hard work in exchange for 40 years of freedom. Unfortunately, most people take 40 years of hard work for four years of freedom, or however long their paid vacation time lasts.

What Does Wealth Mean For You?

What is the real concept of wealth? What does being rich really mean? True wealth is a trinity composed of

  1. Relationships (communities, families, friends);
  2. Health;
  3. Freedom (not only freedom of doing things that need money, but doing things that interest you, pursue dreams, wake up when you want, work when you want, having no need for an alarm clock and working to serve others).

It is within this trinity that you will find happiness. Money’s function should not be a tool to get instant happiness/gratification, that is, a tool to buy stuff. Steer away from using money for that. Rather, use money to achieve those 3 wealth pillars.

“Smart people finish rich.” some say. But what is smarter — to finish rich or to live rich? “Finished” is dead. The “slowlane” (getting a college degree, being an employee working at a job, saving a part of your money) is a bad deal. Life goes by before you know it. It is best enjoyed while young and healthy, and that’s where money should be, not later. People generally say that owing your own business is risky. Maybe. But so is having a normal job. See:

  1. You may not live to your expected average life, and well — so you may be saving money to enjoy when you’re 60+, if you can call that enjoying, for nothing);
  2. You may not always be employed, and your income maybe not always be rising;
  3. You may never be able to enjoy far-fetched dreams — you’ll have a normal job, afford normal vacations, and live mediocrly like the rest of the people;
  4. The economy can fail and your retirement savings go to the bin;
  5. You may need to keep working after retirement;
  6. You are not in full control of your life. You’re giving up a big part of control over your life and putting at the hands of others.

To increase wealth, the slowlaners need to save. To settle. To sacrifice. The ways to break free from this, for the slowlaners, are fame and corporate ascension but if you can’t be famous (unlikely) and corporate ascension doesn’t particularly attract you (for the meager price of 40 years of your life) as a road to riches, what’s left? Society enforces the slowlane as your only option. Unfortunately, that strategy leads straight into the “middles” — middle class, middle age and a middle (read average, forgettable) life.

“Slowlaners work for time whereas fast liners have time working for them.”

Take Action & Be a Producer

People tend to view the success of others as luck. Understand that luck is a product of process, action, work, and being “out there.” And when you are “out there” you stand a chance at being in the right place at the right time. People don’t mention the long days, tinkering with issues and all the difficulties, persistence and hard work. Luck occurs when probability moves from impossible to possible.

Fastline drivers (those that are on the fast track to being wealthy) aren’t targeted by ads at 2am, which is when normal people are lazily watching TV. No, at 2am they’re forging the process, executing their plan towards their destination. They’re on the wheel, not on the backseat. Take the responsibility for what happens to you, and which you can control. Drive. Don’t hitchhike.

The fastlane is characterized by self-employment, entrepreneurship, owning a business. It requires a very high workload for a few (4-6) years. But then a very lower workload for the rest of your life (if that’s what you want). You can get rich quick, but not easy.

Become a producer first, and a consumer second. Instead of buying products on TV, sell products. Instead of digging for gold, sell shovels. Once you see the world from a producer perspective, your perception sharpens like a fine-tuned radio frequency, from static to clear stereo sound. When you see an advertising message, ask how the company makes money, is the product manufactured overseas or locally? Consumers are the majority that fill producers’ pockets.

To consume richly, produce richly first. Fastlaners are producers, entrepreneurs, innovators, visionaries, and creators. But the point is to have the business working for you, not you working for the business. Like writing a book, and then just reaping the rewards forever. This is called passive income. The author compares this with a money tree. You need to nurture it specially in the beginning, and then when it blossoms / grows you only need to take care of it occasionally and it keeps bearing fruits.

“Thinking never made anyone rich, unless that thinking manifests itself into consistent actions with your plan.”

Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can control all aspects of your life. How do you persevere? You control conscious choices that you make throughout every day. Not just one choice but hundreds, thousands. You cannot choose to persevere with one choice. Determination and discipline does not consist of a single choice but of thousands of them. To be determined is not something you chose. It’s a state of mind that must persist repeatedly with commitment.

If we have the mindset that we’ll never be able to own a Lamborghini, unconsciously our choices will reflect that mindset. Believe that retirement at any age is possible. Believe that old age is not a prerequisite to wealth. Believe that a job is just as risky as a business. Believe that you can be retired just a few years from today.

Your options to increase wealth are much greater when you sell products or services instead of working at a normal job. Instead of hoping for a 3% raise, you can increase hundreds % your salary, if you manage to sell more. More, the relationship between your income and the work you put in is much stronger, which means it is up to you, and no one else to have your salary raised, and by how much.

Value Your Time, Surround Yourself With Great People

However to weaponize the Fastlane wealth equation, you must engage in a Fastlane business that has the potential for leverage or high speed limits. For example, opening a local hot dog shop has a low speed limit. You need to go into a business with a high speed limit. The more lives you affect in an entity you control, in scale (no. of units) and/or magnitude (unit profit), the richer you will become. One way to increase magnitude is to go where large numbers are. For example dealing with rich people problems.

The higher the passivity the more autonomous the business is. Having more people working for you generally decreases passivity because people need to managed.

People we surround ourselves affect us. We should try to be surrounded by like minded people – join entrepreneur clubs or forums, attend networking events, ally yourself with like-minders, find a mentor, get yourself around people who subscribe to an anything-is-possible mindset. Read books and autobiographies of those who have the kind of success you want.

Remember: time is your most valuable asset. Rather than focusing on being frugal with money, be frugal with time. Use money to buy time, e.g., by hiring people to do less important or menial work while you work on something else.

Fastlaners when study do it for specific purposes that directly influence their business grow and therefore increase in wealth. On the other hand, slowlaners when in college are given education to increase their value, to become another gear in the system. The relationship “hours invested vs money earned” is much weaker.

If one asks any successful entrepreneur they will say that one learns from doing, from getting out and taking repeated action, much more than from any book or professor. And remember: there is never a perfect time. Someday is today. Start now, or don’t bother. There will always be excuses.

Nowadays we have at our disposal infinite knowledge. Skills and expertise are waiting for you. No one drops a book on your lap and gifts you knowledge. You have to seek it, process it, and use it. The acquisition and application of knowledge will make you rich. Fastlaner’s aren’t interested in being a cog in the wheel. They want to be the wheel. “I don’t know how” is an excuse dismantled by discipline.

Interest vs Commitment

Interest is reading a book, commitment is applying the book 50 times. Interest works on your business an hour a day Monday through Friday. Commitment works on your business 7 days a week whenever time permits. Interest is quitting after the 3rd failure. Committing is continuing after the hundredth. You can have mediocre comfort now or meteoric comfort later. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!

The sweat of success is failure. You have to get out there and fail. Fear of failure is attributed to an overestimated worst-case consequence analysis. What is the absolute worst that could happen and the probability of it happening? You fail at business and have to go back to work? Big deal. Take calculated risks. The word here is calculated. Failure is natural to success. Expect it and learn from it.

5 Requirements of a Successful Business

Some businesses are dead ends (or using his metaphor, bad roads). The best roads satisfy 5 requirements: Need, Entry, Control, Scale, and Time.

Need

Most businesses fail because they don’t respect this requirement. They don’t chase needs, problems, pain points, service deficiencies. You and your business attract money when you stop being selfish and turn your business’s focus from the needs of yourself to the needs of other people. For example you might open a martial arts studio or a hip hop studio in a village because that’s what you love. The correct foundation is based on external needs not internal selfish needs (i want money/do what i like,…) “Do what you love” sets the stage for crowded marketplaces with depressed margins. Because “what you love” is probably what thousands of others also love. No one loves to clean cows’ dirt, so maybe there’s more opportunities there for a business.

  • What are existing martial arts studios doing wrong that I could do better?
  • What improved value do I offer the martial arts student?
  • What assets do I bring to this community?

Chase money and it will elude you. However, if you ignore it and focus on what attracts money, you will draw it to yourself.

Money is attracted to businesses that solve problems. Look around outside your world, stop being selfish, and help your fellow humans solve their problems.

Need something more concrete? No problem. Make 1 million people achieve any of the following:

  1. Make them feel better.
  2. Help them solve a problem.
  3. Educate them.
  4. Make them look better (health, nutrition, clothing, makeup).
  5. Give them security (housing, safety, health).
  6. Raise a positive emotion (love, happiness, laughter, self-confidence).
  7. Satisfy appetites, from basic (food) to the risqué (sexual).
  8. Make things easier.
  9. Enhance their dreams and give hope.

Passion is when you have life/end goals, a why, and you do whatever it takes to achieve it/them. You need to constantly remind yourself of them. If your passion is you having a business of innovative products you might have to start with a completely unrelated business which will then fund that one.

Entry

As entry barriers to any business decrease, the competition in that field subsequently strengthens. When the author started his Internet business he had about 12 competitors. Could he be exceptional among 12? Absolutely. Easy access roads carry more traffic, that is higher competition, which means less profit and the need for exceptionalism for it to work.

Control

Control is about who controls the business, and how many/important outside factors you don’t control. E.g. relying your whole business income in a product than you don’t produce (they could discontinue it, or start selling it to someone else and then you’re out). Producing videos for YouTube. Producing content for Apple. Yeah you might be benefiting from it, but so is the larger company. So in effect, you’re giving part of your value away.

Scale

Billionaire Mark Cuban recently wrote on his blog that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail in business because you only have to be right once, and that “once” can set you up for life.

We should choose a road with a high speed limit, that is, high potential, high numbers. From your town to the world, scale increases. From a very specific niche, to a worldwide problem. Scale = magnitude x reach. For example selling Lamborghinis locally has a big magnitude because of their high price and high profit whereas selling food worldwide a large reach.

How do you know if your business or potential has scale potential? Ask yourself:

  • Can the net income of this business scale limitlessly, say, from $2,000 per month to $200,000?
  • Can the asset value of this business scale into the millions?
  • Can this business impact millions? Or does it impact hundreds? Is its customer pool the world or a small community in the city?
  • Can this business be replicated and expanded beyond the local trading area by franchising, chaining, or additional units?
  • Best-case scenario, what is the units-sold potential? One hundred or one hundred
    million?
  • Best-case scenario, how pliable is unit profit? Does it have magnitude?

A friend asked the author if buying a coffee shop franchise was a good idea. He said no, and justified: He had limited reach because he only wanted to buy one. By only buying one he is very limited in terms of units sold, and therefore profit. The other way to leverage scale — magnitude — was also limited because the profit can’t be changed.

Time

This “rule” states that your business needs to be able to detach itself from your time. A business attached to your time is a job.

  • Can this business be automated and systematized to operate while I’m absent?
  • Are my margins thick enough to hire human resource seedlings?
  • How can I get this business to operate exclusive of my time?

So to sum up:
Does it solve an unmet need? Do you have control over the business? Is the entry not too easy? Is it highly scalable? Can it work without your time?

Ideas to Get You Started

Some ideas for fastlanes:

1) Internet-related: For example e-commerce.

2) Innovating: Some examples are given such as weird bottles for alcoholic beverages (for example a skull shaped bottle for vodka) and snoggie, a concept that has existed for many years. But the people who made millions with it simply repackaged and remarketed it.The three parts of selling a product are designing it, manufacturing it, and distributing it. For the 3rd part it could be directly (internet) or indirectly (retail). Part of the battle is being able to put the product out there because many good products are sold less than mediocre products because the latter are marketed, appear, are spoken about, so they reach more people more quickly.

3) Intentional Iteration: where for example you own a shop or a franchise with the purpose of repeating the success of that one to many more. That is, buy one, put it successful, rinse and repeat. One kiosk won’t make anyone rich, but 100 might.

“At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done — then it is done, and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Opportunities are everywhere. A person complaining at the store. Opportunity. Those people bitching on the online forum. Opportunity. Opportunities can be solutions to inconveniences, simplifications, feelings (comfort, pain), better service. If someone is already doing something so what? Do it better. Successful businesses rarely evolve from some legendary idea. Skip the big idea and go for the big execution.

Sentences to pay attention to

“I hate…” “I don’t like…” “This frustrates me…” “Why is this like this…” “Do i have to.. ?” “I wish there was…” “i’m tired of ….” “This sucks..”

What Is the Price of Your Freedom?

Write down the lifestyle you want, in order to calculate how much monthly income you need. I won’t put it here, because the cost depends on the country where you’re living, but it can be found on p.273.

Personally I arrived at the value of 22 000€/month. To gain that money passively at a 5% interest rate I would need 5.3M€ in the bank value that should be reached by having the business generating 66 000€/month (of which i would keep 20%). Conquer big goals by breaking them down to their smallest component

The first step is not 5000€/month but 50€/month. And before that, to make the first €. To make money passively, open a brokerage account and put some in a (mutual?) fund that yields 5% yearly.

We should live below our means but just in order to quickly increase our means in the not-so-distant future.

Go Out There and Act!

The fact is, most people will do nothing with the information presented here. It’s one thing to possess the treasure map — it’s another to get out of the house and follow it. For a serial entrepreneur, speed is how quickly they go from idea to execution.

Do not just think about the business, but create it. Uncover a need and formulate a solution and a prototype. Fill paperwork for your business entity. Contact people, and put the gears moving. Turn off your Playstation. Stop watching so many movies. Compare this to a game of chess:

  • The King: Execution
  • The Queen: Marketing
  • The Bishop: Customer service
  • The Knight: Product
  • The Rook: People
  • The Pawn: Ideas.

“I had that idea!” Who cares? So did a thousand other people. What separates you from them? They executed. You didn’t. Instead, you spent hours playing fantasy football. Good ideas are just multipliers of execution. Ideas are like a car’s top speed, and execution is how much pressure you apply to the accelerator. Execution takes effort, sacrifice, discipline, and persistence. It’s much harder to have a good execution than a good idea.

Figure out what needs figuring and just go do it. Don’t become paralyzed by analysis. The world will do its job and tell you the directions to travel.

If you want investors, get out and execute! Create a prototype! Create a brand! Heck, be good enough and they will be fighting to give you money. Angels to private equity never invest in business plans— they invest in people with track records of execution.

Random Final Tips

How to deal with hard-to-deal-with people and complaints. How do you deal with exploitative complainers? You respond once with grace, explain your position, and move on.

Have an unexpectedly good customer service. Success in business comes from making your customer the boss and the no. 1 stakeholder to your business. “The customer pays your paycheck, not me — keep them happy.” Your customer and their satisfaction hold the key to everything you selfishly want.

In the “about us” and contact us the author had listed imaginary names of people that didn’t really work in his company in certain positions (business analyst, CTO, …) in order for it to appear better than it was: well funded, big, growing. Then, looking big, but still giving very good detailed customer service would be positively unexpected for his customers. It also had the benefit of scaring away possible small competitors. Basically looking big but acting small.

You should have, even if just the contact to ask questions and answer doubts, an accountant and an attorney. For his first accountant, DeMarco just went to the yellow pages, as he just wanted to get the job done. Then as the business grew he started being more rigid, trying to find accountants with good referrals from other entrepreneurs of successful established businesses.

How should it be your attitude towards competition? 95% focused on your business and only 5% on them, and with the purpose of differentiating your business and exploiting their weaknesses. For example the author noticed his competition never answered emails. What are they doing wrong? What inefficiency is there? Within the gray area of unsatisfied customers lies differentiation.

Be unique when compared to the alternatives. Be unconventional, interactive, arouse emotion. The first human behavior you can count on is selfishness. People want what they want. It’s human nature. Therefore, your marketing messages must focus on benefits, not features. You don’t buy a drill; you buy a hole. You don’t buy a dress; you buy an image. You don’t buy a Toyota; you buy reliability. You don’t buy a vacation; you buy an experience.

He gives an interesting example where he was having difficulty selling a product. Then instead of presenting the price, he put the price, but several higher values crossed (as in previous discounts), giving the appearance that it was more valuable and now a bargain, which then sold immediately.

Price influences our perception of value because normally they are correlated. For example designer purses cost ~100€ to produce but sell at ~4k€ with the help of branding and marketing.

The power of a brand is that of differentiation and loyalty. A commoditized product is one which is equal between many stores, so the only differentiation is the price. We can avoid that by having a distinguished brand with customer loyalty.

Conclusions

Stop selling your soul for a weekend. Focus on exponential growth of income and asset value, and not on cutting expenses. That’s what creates millionaires.

“If you can’t control the mathematics that predetermine your wealth, nor accelerate them into large numbers, you can’t control your financial plan. Avoid wasting time. What’s your Number? How much money will you need to live a lifestyle of your choosing? Determine your number, break it down by the cent, and make it real today. Start saving your loose change, open a brokerage account, and put a chart on your office wall that continually monitors your number’s progress. Make your dream lifestyle real by posting photos of that lifestyle at your work space. For example, if you want a cabin on a mountain creek, find a picture of that vision and put it on computer so you have to see it every day. Make your visions of the future as real as possible and force them into your psyche so you’re constantly reminded. Imagine them. Remember that the unconscious brain doesn’t distinguish between what is imagined and real. Never stop learning. Don’t get into personal debt, ever. Engage in an organization that you fully control, from pricing to marketing to operations. Don’t cede control over critical business functions to hierarchical control structure. Remember needs: produce what others need and money will flow into your life. Remember automation: Automate your business and honor the Commandment of Time. Get your time detached from your business. Remember scale: to make millions, you must impact millions. Remember to reward: Sell your first product? Celebrate! Go to dinner, buy a cigar, drink a beer. Break $100,000 in net worth? Treat yourself to something nice. Excuses never made anyone rich, and we all have them. Stop being like everyone and start taking action.” — MJ deMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane

Normal is to slave at a job Monday through Friday, save 10%, and repeat for 40 years. Will you even live 40 years? Even if you live, are you supposed to enjoy life right when it’s ending? You’re conditioned to accept normal based on society’s already corrupted definition of wealth, and because of it, normal itself is corrupted. Normal is modern-day slavery. Normal is condemnation to mediocrity. Be different, be weird, and fight the good fight. Because you only have this one chance.

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