I’m not sure why I started reading You’re a Badass at Making Money.
I mean, I saw someone mention they were reading it on my Twitter feed, and Amazon’s reviews as well as Goodreads is generally positive, so I figured I’d give the book a shot. Management books aside1, I’m generally skeptical of self-help books due to their anecdotal nature and, as YaBaMM reaffirms, is a branding exercise for the author to further their actual business in consulting and coaching seminars. Rich Dad, Poor Dad had some decent advice, but once I found out that the author made up his stories and the book was the actual source of his wealth, it brought the validity of everything he claimed into question.
Somehow YaBaMM is worse.
The book tries to communicate a simple idea: don’t be afraid of making money. The central theme is that people are held back from making more money because they’ve been socially conditioned to think of greed as evil, which keeps them from taking risks or making moves that would improve their financial situations. I don’t have a huge issue with that message; some people are seeking that extra kick-in-the-pants to motivate them to make that metaphorical leap into the unknown2.
The author, though, goes a step further and encourages the reader to just think really hard about having a lot of money, be unafraid, and then literally wait for good things to happen. There is—I’m not even kidding—a chapter on what she calls the “Universal Intelligence” which is supposed to have the reader’s back when they throw all caution into the wind and make irresponsible life decisions. As far as bad self-help cliches go, thinking about something really hard to will it to magically happen is a classic.
Worse, most of her examples of success are superfluous, vain, and vapid. Multiple times, she tells a story of herself or one of her clients who suddenly need money; not for life essentials or investments or even a clever business idea, but money so they can take expensive life coaching classes to learn how to be rich. In a section that sounds The Onion-esque, a woman needed 5-figures to take some life-coaching classes, thought about needing money really hard, and then—through the magic of the Universal Intelligence—remembered some stock she bought 2 decades ago and cashed it out to pay for those lessons.
On top of the terrible advice and rhetoric, the writing quality is abysmal. I can look past the casual writing-like-you-speak style if it’s funny or charming or even just consistent, but the author intermixes casual prose with pop culture psychology and what is supposed to sound like scientific research3. Most of the chapters end up repeating the same thing—the idea can be fully captured in a single sentence, after all—and for some reason she feels like it’s important to begin each chapter with a personal story, stretched so much to fit the point she wants to make, that tests the bounds of incredulity:
- Her mom is an old and dignified lady
- She misspoke during a town meeting where she used a word she didn’t fully understand the meaning of
- Using words accurately sharpens the mind
- A strong mind is important when you want to make more money
Most of my Mad Libs games make more sense than this.
So don’t read this book. If you do need a inspirational book on money and finances, pick up Ray Dalio’s Principles instead; I’m reading through it right now, and it’s a much better take on the role of money in someone’s life.